Fox Networks Group will launch a National Geographic on-demand service in Africa in the New Year. In his first major interview since taking the helm of Fox Networks Group Europe and Africa three -and-a-half years ago, Jan Koeppen told Variety about the new National Geographic+ non-linear service and his goal of bringing the box-set, binge-viewing experience to fans of factual programming.
Koeppen said that National Geographic+ has been designed to appeal to the sought-after millennials demographic. The key is to reinvent the on-demand experience for factual fans and allow viewers to binge the same way they do with drama, he said. “There has been a misconception that VOD is all about scripted,” Koeppen said. “People have been a bit shy about VOD in factual because everybody is so excited about the drama and, to a certain extent, comedy world. We think there is a real demand on the factual side, too, but we have to put a new face on what factual actually means in non-linear.”
The first deals for National Geographic+ have been sealed with telco Cell C’s Black service in South Africa, OTE’s Cosmote offering in Greece, and the YouSee pay-TV platform in Denmark in 2018. Simply stacking shows is not enough to encourage binge-watching, so programming will be arranged by topic, Koeppen said. “We have to think differently to the linear world and how things are served up there,” he said. “If you want to create an environment in which you can binge, I think offering content title by title is not the way to do it. Everyone has latched onto the idea of box sets, and people understand what that means, so while internally we call them ‘topics,’ that’s what this is.”