NatGeo gets more local, introduces Indian adventurer on SuperCroc special

National Geographic Channel plans to go wilder. But if you thought they are going to introduce more wildlife programming, think again!

SuperCroc that telecasts on 9 December

The channel that is about to turn three in India, has a slew of plans up its sleeve to relaunch itself as an 'entertainment channel' in the subcontinent. "I am tired of seeing NGC listed under the educational programme category in the newspapers", says newly appointed senior VP, content & communications Dilshad Jal Master.

The next six months, she promises, will see NGC targeting the 25-year olds with a host of adventure-n-exploration shows, programmes on science and technology as well as lighter series on cultures and people.

Master balks at the label of 'infotainment', though. "It may be educational in the process, but it is essentially entertainment", she avers. A widely scattered audience of five to 50 year olds from 20 million Indian households would agree.

A recently concluded qualitative study conducted by the channel across several Indian cities showed that NGC is watched even prime time soaps are at their tear-jerking best on other channels. "We wouldn't mind pitting our best series against the soaps," she says.

That is precisely what the channel is doing with SuperCroc, a two hour special that will be aired on 9 December at 8 pm. Four years of research have gone into the making of the programme that delves into the discovery of a prehistoric mammoth - Sarcosuchus imperator, in the parched sands of the Sahara. The show does not only traces the way the SuperCroc lived and died, it also traces its descendants in swampy Australia, Florida and even in India.

Gerry Martin makes his first NGC appearance on SuperCroc

The in-house team of Dr Paul Sereno and Dr Brady Barr is joined by Indian herpetologist Gerry Martin during their exploration in India. The extensive research, the rigorous travels and the life size models of the 40-foot long reptile created for the SuperCroc, have all contributed to making it one of the costliest NGC shows produced so far. The show will be followed by a 13-part series on crocodile chronicles, three of which are filmed in India.

Although some region specific programming is in the pipeline, the study commissioned by NGC revealed that audiences are keen on seeing more of the world outside India, rather than about India itself. NGC is also planning to target women, who are increasingly choosing to watch the channel, says Master. Some of the envisaged programmes include those on health, medicine and culture.

Master discloses that the 18 hours of Hindi dubbed programming that NGC started airing in September this year has gone a long way in increasing penetration from 7.8 million households to 20 million now.

NGC is also planning to trace the National Geographic Society's grantees who are working on several wildlife projects in remote corners of the country like Garhwal or Coorg, and using the inputs for making more shows on the channel.

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