Discovery Channel (formerly The Discovery Channel from 1985 to 1995, and often referred to as simply "Discovery") is an American basic cable and satellite television channel (which is also delivered via IPTV, terrestrial television and internet television in other parts of the world) that is the flagship television property of Discovery Communications, a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. As of June 2012, Discovery Channel is the third most widely distributed cable channel in the United States, behind TBS and The Weather Channel; it is available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel and its various owned or licensed television channels internationally.
It initially provided documentary television programming focused primarily on popular science, technology and history, but in recent years has expanded into reality television and pseudo-scientific entertainment. Programming on the flagship Discovery Channel in the U.S. is primarily focused on reality television series, such as speculative investigation (with shows such as MythBusters, Unsolved History and Best Evidence), automobiles, and occupations (such as Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch); it also features documentaries specifically aimed at families and younger audiences.
A popular annual feature on the channel is Shark Week, which airs on Discovery during the summer months.
As of February 2015, Discovery Channel is available to approximately 96,589,000 pay television households (83% of households with television) in the United States.
John Hendricks founded the channel and its parent company, Cable Educational Network Inc., in 1982. Several investors (including the BBC, Allen & Company and Venture America) raised $5 million in start-up capital to launch the network.
The Discovery Channel began broadcasting on June 17, 1985. It was initially available to 156,000 households and broadcast for 12 hours each day between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. About 75 percent of its program content had never been broadcast on U.S. television before. In its early years, the channel's focus centered on educational programming in the form of cultural and wildlife documentaries, and science and historical specials. It also broadcast some Soviet programming during this time, including the news program Vremya. In 1988, the channel premiered the nightly program World Monitor (produced by The Christian Science Monitor). In 1988, The Discovery Channel debuted an annual programming stunt called Shark Week, the week-long event eventually gained in popularity starting in the 1990s and continues to be shown each summer on the channel to this day. By 1990, the channel was available in over 50 million households.
The channel began to shift its focus in the early 2000s to attract a broader audience, by incorporating more reality-based series focusing on automotive, occupations and speculative investigation series; though the refocused programming strategy proved popular, Discovery Channel's ratings began to decline by the middle of the decade. The drop in viewership was widely attributed to an over-reliance on a few hit series, such as Monster Garage and American Chopper. Some critics said such shows strayed from Discovery's intention of providing more educationally based shows aimed at helping viewers learn about the world around them. In 2005, Discovery changed its programming focus to include more popular science and historical themes. The network's ratings eventually recovered in 2006.
On January 4, 2006, Discovery Communications announced anchor Ted Koppel, executive producer Tom Bettag and eight other former staff members from the ABC newsmagazine Nightline were joining Discovery Channel. The network was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards that year for shows including The Flight that Fought Back (a documentary about the hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) and Deadliest Catch (a reality series about a group of seafood fishermen).
In 2007, Discovery Channel's top series included the Emmy and Peabody award-winning Planet Earth, Dirty Jobs, MythBusters and Deadliest Catch. Discovery Channel's 2008 lineup included Fight Quest and Smash Lab.
On September 1, 2010, 43-year-old James Jay Lee entered the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, armed with a handgun. Lee fired at least one shot, held several employees hostage; he was later shot dead by police. Lee had published criticisms of the network at Savetheplanetprotest.com.
Popular programs on the channel have included the Shark Week programming event, Deadliest Catch, MythBusters, How It's Made, Dirty Jobs, Cash Cab, and Man vs. Wild. Christopher Lowell won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2000 for The Christopher Lowell Show (which aired on the Discovery Channel from 1998 to 2001).
Pro Cycling Team
Shortly before the 2004 Tour de France, Discovery Channel announced it would become the primary sponsor of a professional bicycling team starting in 2005, featuring seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. After the 2007 victory with the Spaniard Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel discontinued the cycling sponsorship.
Discovery Channel Radio
Discovery Channel Radio was a radio network, whose programming consisted of audio versions of popular programs from the Discovery Communications family of television channels. Discovery Channel Radio was previously carried by XM Satellite Radio, until its removal from the provider in early September 2005. Sirius Satellite Radio dropped Discovery Radio from its lineup on February 21, 2007; it was also carried on both of Canada's major satellite radio services.
Discovery Channel lent its brand to retail stores in malls and other locations across America, and to an online store. The store's specialty products were educational gifts, most of which were manufactured with the Discovery Channel brand name. On May 17, 2007, Discovery Communications announced it would close its standalone and mall-based stores. Hudson Group will continue to operate the Discovery Channel Airport Stores, and the website remains in operation.
Discovery Channel funded the construction of the Discovery Channel Telescope, in partnership with Lowell Observatory.
Discovery.com is the Discovery Channel's official website, which primarily provides information on the channel's programming and additional content, including games, tied to those shows.
Marketing and branding
Discovery Channel's previous taglines had been "Explore Your World" and "There's No Thrill Like Discovery." Keeping with its changing focus away from strictly educational programming toward reality TV, the slogan was changed in the early 2000s to "Entertain Your Brain". The new tagline for the revamped Discovery Channel was "Let's All Discover...", with a continuing phrase or sentence that relates to a show. For example, when advertising for MythBusters, the commercial would end, "Let's All Discover, Why No Myth Is Safe". With the 2008 logo change came a new tagline: "The World is Just...Awesome." The newest image promos include an unreleased mix of the song "Wonders Never Cease" by Morcheeba, from the album entitled The Antidote and the song "Typical" by Mutemath. Their most recent promo I Love the World, created by the 72andSunny agency, contains amended verses and the refrain from the traditional campfire song "I Love The Mountains".
The Discovery Channel's first logo was a television screen picturing a map of the world. For two decades, starting in 1987, the channel's logo incorporated the Discovery wordmark rendered in the Aurora Bold Condensed font with a circlular shape in front of it. The circle usually took the form of a rising sun, or an animated version of the Vitruvian Man.
In 1995, the channel's name was simplified to "Discovery Channel", dropping the "The" from its name. A globe became a permanent part of the logo, and an underline was added to the bottom of the logo. During this time, the company started expanding and launched several new networks. Many of the sister networks used logo designs similar to the one used by Discovery, often incorporating the globe and using the same typeface. Networks that had logos based on Discovery's included Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Science, Discovery Wings and Discovery Home & Leisure. The logo was changed slightly in 2000 when the word "Channel" was moved into the underline, and the globe was altered to focus on the Pacific Ocean.
On April 15, 2008, before the season premiere of Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel debuted a new logo, and a new tagline ("The World is Just Awesome"). The logo was designed by Boston-based design firm Viewpoint Creative and replaced the longstanding Aurora Bold Condensed font in the logo with Gotham. The globe has been merged with the "D" in "Discovery". A combination of the "D" in the wordmark and the globe is sometimes used separately, primarily as the channel's logo bug during its programming. Later in 2009, design agency Royale slightly modified the logo, detaching the globe from the "D", and making the word CHANNEL slightly bigger. The modified logo was rolled out to Discovery's international channels during the first half of 2009.
Discovery Channel reaches 431 million homes in 170 countries. Discovery Communications currently offers 29 network brands in 33 languages. In a number of countries, Discovery's channels are available on digital satellite platforms with multiple language soundtracks or subtitles including Spanish, German, Russian, Czech, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Turkish, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Arabic, Slovene, Japanese, Korean and Serbian. In Bulgaria, Discovery has, since 2000â"2001, displayed Bulgarian subtitles by all cable providers and since 2010 â" with Bulgarian dubbling for some shows.
Discovery Channel Canada has an ownership structure different from Discovery Channel. Canadian viewers receive almost identical English-language programming to the channel that American viewers watch, but with added Canadian content to meet Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission requirements. Most notably, the Canadian channel carries the daily science news show Daily Planet, originally @discovery.ca, the first of its kind. Occasionally, several segments on similar topics are taken from various episodes and put together into one-hour specials that are broadcast on the original Discovery Channel. Through a brand licensing agreement with Bell Media, Discovery Channel Canada also operates Canadian versions of Discovery World HD, Discovery Health, Discovery Science, Investigation Discovery and Animal Planet.
In the United Kingdom, Discovery Channel UK airs some common programs as the U.S. version, including MythBusters, American Chopper, How It's Made and Deadliest Catch. The channel is carried as a basic subscription channel on the SKYdigital satellite service and digital cable provider Virgin Media. Discovery UK also operates Discovery HD, Discovery Knowledge, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Science, Animal Planet, DMAX, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Home & Health, Discovery Travel & Leisure and Discovery Shed. Many of these channels also have timeshifted versions. In the Republic of Ireland, the UK version of Discovery Channel is available on most cable providers in that country, but with local advertisements.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Discovery Channel is part of the Premiere digital network and supplies specific programs to other networks like ZDF and kabel eins. Discovery Communications is also owner of the documentary-channel XXP. The channel was bought in the spring of 2006 from its former shareholders Spiegel TV and "dctp". All programs are dubbed into German. The channel is now known as "DMAX", presumably to associate the channel with Discovery.
In the Netherlands, the Discovery Channel is included on most cable, IPTV and DVB-T providers. Nearly all of the programs are broadcast in their original language, but they are subtitled in Dutch as is the policy of all Dutch television stations. Some programs and most promotions and program announcements have a Dutch voice-over. In Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, a Flemish Discovery Channel launched (previously the Dutch version was available for IPTV, DVB-C and DVB-S) on cable (and digital) television on October 1, 2009.
In Italy, the Discovery Channel (and HD) is distributed via satellite by Sky Italia as part of the documentary pack. In addition, Italy has four Discovery-branded channels: Discovery Science, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Animal Planet and Discovery Travel and Living.
In Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Slovenia, Discovery Channel is carried by most cable television and IPTV providers with all the content subtitled in the respective languages. Additionally, it is also available on digital satellite platforms in Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia (sometimes requiring an additional fee). In Poland, Cyfra Plus broadcasts the programs dubbed in Polish and in original English. An additional channel, Discovery Historia, owned in cooperation with Polish broadcaster TVN, is carried on the "n" digital platform.
In Spain, the channel shares a schedule and programs with Portugal and is available on most satellite and cable platforms, making it possible to broadcast both in Spanish and Portuguese. In Spain, all programs are dubbed; whereas in Portugal, most of them are subtitled. In addition, Portugal has three Discovery-branded channels: Discovery Turbo (focusing on motorsports), Discovery Science (focusing on science and technology) and Discovery Civilization (focusing on historical events). These channels follow the same model as the original Discovery Channel, except for the absence of advertising. Spanish advertisements are broadcast on the Portuguese feed, non-subtitled or dubbed.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia, the Discovery Channel is part of a six-channel package (not including timeshifts) on digital subscription television, available on Foxtel, Optus TV and AUSTAR.
In New Zealand, the Australian version of Discovery is broadcast on SKY Network Television.
In India, China, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the rest of South East Asia, the South East Asian version of the Discovery Channel is available on digital subscription television. Discovery Channel Asia still shows crime programs (such as Most Evil and The FBI Files). Many programs feature development and society in Asian countries, especially in India and China. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have other channels branched from the main Discovery Channel, including Discovery Turbo, Discovery Science, Discovery Home & Health and Discovery Travel & Living.
The Philippines has its own version of the main Discovery Channel. Its feed shares the program schedule as the South East Asia feed, except for the inclusion of the Philippine advertisements during commercial breaks.
Discovery India provides audio feed in 3 Indian languages Hindi, Telugu and Bengali along with English and a dedicated channel in Tamil.
On August 15, 2011, Discovery launched a Tamil version of the channel. In July 2012, it began to be carried by Dish TV. At that time, the channel reached over 10 million households in Tamil Nadu, India via analog transmission. All the programmes are dubbed in Tamil and it has been receiving tremendous responses.
In South Africa, Discovery Channel shares a schedule and programming with all of Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. Discovery Channel and sibling channels Discovery World, TLC, Investigation Discovery and Animal Planet are available on the DStv/Multichoice platform.
In August 2008, it was reported by The Consumerist that Discovery Channel had preempted an episode of MythBusters examining RFID security in regard to its implementation in credit cards before its original broadcast because the episode would upset credit card companies, who are major advertisers on Discovery Channel. It was later determined that the decision not to investigate the issue was made by Beyond Productions, the MythBusters production company, and was not made by Discovery Channel or their advertising department.
An ad promoting Enigmatic Malaysia, a special series on the network meant to highlight the cultural heritages of Malaysia, mistakenly featured Balinese Pendet dancers. This prompted outrage from Balinese dancers, who posted messages demanding that Malaysia apologize over the misinformation, which then sparked a series of street protests. Further demands were made from the local governments, cultural historians and the tourism ministry in Indonesia for Malaysia to clarify the situation. The Malaysian government reportedly offered an apology, which was rejected by the Indonesian tourism minister, since the apology was given informally by phone, the Indonesian tourism minister demanded a written apology to make it more accountable.
In November 2012, the Romanian RCS&RDS, the largest company of its kind on the internal market, interrupted its carriage of Discovery Communications channels, including Discovery Channel. The CEO of Discovery Communications Mark Hollinger sent an open letter in his attempt to counteract the action of RCS&RDS, attracting the attention to the negation of the alleged right of the viewer to choose the viewed channels. In turn, RCS&RDS issued a press statement accusing of hypocrisy Hollinger's discourse attentive at the needs of viewers and attracted attention to the fact that, during negotiations, the main preoccupations of the Discovery representatives was maintaining as high as possible tariffs and monetary gainsâ.
In August 2013 Discovery Channel released a film purporting to be a factual documentary entitled Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, which claimed to show that Carcharadon megalodon (a giant shark species that has been extinct for millions of years) still exists. George Monbiot has claimed that the images used in this documentary, specifically of a megalodon in an image of Nazi U-boats off the coast of South Africa in 1942 was faked. The image appears to have been taken from film footage but no shark can be seen in this film. George Monbiot confronted the production company, Pilgrim Studios about this image and other controversial statements in the film, but had received no reply as of 21 February 2014.
Concerns have been raised about the implications of this film considering recent calls for shark culls in Australia.
Eaten Alive was a television program in which wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie was purportedly going to be "eaten alive" by an anaconda. It aired on December 7, 2014. When the special aired, the anaconda attacked Rosolie but did not swallow him, as its title had implied, prompting numerous complaints of a bait and switch.
Naked and Afraid
Naked and Afraid is an active series that first premiered on June 23, 2013. One man and one woman are thrown alone into the wild with nothing and left to survive. Though the show blurs some of the bodies of the actors, they are fully naked which sparked a controversy and received critical reception. Focus on the Family's PluggedIn gave it a critical review. Parents Television Council, One Million Moms, and American Family Association have boycotted the network.
- List of documentary channels
- Discovery Kids
- Discovery Times Square Exposition
- Official website
- Official Discovery Store
- Discovery Channel's Official YouTube
- Discovery Communications Inc.
- Discovery Education
- Cosmeo (Discovery Education's online homework help service)
- Discovery Channel Japan
- Discovery Channel Germany
- Discovery Channel Romania
- Discovery Channel India
- Discovery Channel Canada
- Discovery Channel Taiwan
- Discovery Channel Russia
- Discovery Channel Asia
- Discovery Channel Korea
- Discovery Channel at TV Ark