Discovery Communications is remaking Planet Green, reports the New York Times, calling Planet Green “an underperforming cable channel that has been home to environmental programming for the past four years.” It will be relaunched as Destination America, a channel that Adweek calls a “mom-and-apple-pie network.” The change will take effect on May 28th, over the Memorial Day weekend.
While Planet Green is available in nearly 60 million homes and has turned a profit, the network struggled to make subjects like windpower and organic farming particularly entertaining or powerful in the ratings. Spearheading the change is Henry Schleiff, who let Discovery’s true-crime network, Investigation Discovery, to be the most profitable property in Discovery’s portfolio and a top-rated network among women 25-54.
Destination America will be the “first network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation,” says Discovery Networks. Destination America will target adults 25-54, will be available in 59.5 million homes and feature original series covering such diverse subjects as American food from Tex Mex to barbeque; American mysteries from Jesse James’ lost fortune to Area 51; America’s heroes from those who embody the values of our past to those who invent the technology of our future; as well as never-before-seen footage of America’s iconic landmarks, including Yellowstone National Park and the Everglade swamps.
“Americans may be divided by politics, but we are united by our love of country,” said Schleiff, who will be president and general manager. “As a network inclusive to all, Destination America will celebrate this connective spirit by curating the common ground among us: the pluck of the worn saddle, the promise of exploring new territory, and the diversity that has made this nation great.”
With a 360-degree experience that spans across digital platforms and social media sites, the company will also launch an original iPhone App, allowing consumers to share favorite destinations and themes across America. Users can browse images by location or in diverse categories ranging from beautiful to nostalgic to restaurants, mountains and more. And for those seeking inspiration, “Only In America” will feature Top 10 activities and suggestions ranging from majestic National Parks to hilarious road signs, food sculptures to outrageous hobbies, patriotic pets to hairstyles.
“Our research, coupled with my own experience developing shows about America over the last 20 years, has shown that viewers have a huge appetite for content focused on our unique culture and spirit,” said Marc Etkind, senior vice president of content strategy for Destination America. “By collecting the very best of travel, adventure, food, home, and natural history into one brand, we’re excited to create a new lifestyle destination for programming that Americans love.”
Destination America’s original programming slate for the summer includes:
Sneak Peek on Wednesday, May 30 at 10 P.M. ET/PT
Regular Premieres Begin Sunday, June 3 at 9 P.M. ET/PT
“We’re going back to the pit for a brand new season of ‘BBQ Pitmasters,’ created just for Destination America! With the larger-than-life personalities of our contestants – and judges Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, and Aaron Franklin – steak isn’t the only thing that’s sizzling as these grill masters face off in the ultimate BBQ showdown for bragging rights and a cash prize. The competition travels to places like Memphis, Mobile, New Orleans, and Austin, as contestants grill dishes from St. Louis pork ribs, to Texas brisket and Carolina pulled pork and everything in between. Egos and reputations are on the line as familiar faces and new challengers wage barbeque battle to determine who truly is the best of the best.”
Fast Food Mania
Premieres Sunday, June 3 at 10 and 10:30 P.M. ET/PT
“Our host Jon Hein, a pop culture guru and burger-and-fry aficionado who hosts the “The Fast Food Show” on Howard Stern’s Sirius/XM station, travels across the country and around the globe to celebrate our favorite fast food treats and search for the most unusual fast food items and outposts. From the original Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, OH, to yuzu spiced fried chicken at KFC in Japan, we’ll see how fast food took root in America and has taken over the world, offering the comfort of familiar favorites alongside local delicacies everywhere you turn.”
Super-Duper Thrill Rides
Premieres Saturday, June 16 at 10 P.M. ET/PT
“Destination America ushers in summer with SUPER-DUPER THRILL RIDES, an hour-long look at the coolest and most extreme roller coasters. Americans have always had a passion for thrill rides, and we’ll hit the best in our country and the world. From Universal Studios in Florida to Six Flags in New Jersey to Cedar Point in Ohio, we’ll hear from the designers, engineers, and enthusiasts who explain and explore the popularity of these mind-blowing, stomach-churning rides.”
United States of Food
Premieres Sunday, July 8 at 9 P.M. ET/PT
“In this celebration of America’s obsession with meat, each episode is consumed by eats that people across the nation can’t get enough of, from bacon to steaks to burgers. Chef Todd Fisher hosts this new series, drawing from the life-long passion for food that first found him working in restaurants at the age of 15 and led him to hold the head chef position at his own restaurant since 2000. Now he’s taking his expertise on the road, where he meets obsessed foodies and the cooks who prepare the most beloved dishes at places like Tony’s I-75 Family Restaurant in Michigan, home of the world’s biggest BLT.”
Cheating Las Vegas (working title)
Premieres Saturday, July 14 at 10 P.M. ET/PT
“Cheating Las Vegas takes ‘get rich quick’ to an extreme as viewers peek inside some of the most fascinating and elaborate scams of modern casino gaming. Experienced cheaters will use anything to push the odds into their favor. From counting cards and marking decks to computer hacking and malicious spyware, nothing is out of their realm or capability to ensure a win.”