Discovery Channel Chief Rich Ross: No More Eaten Alive Stunts, Fake Documentaries

He's targeting the whole family with new programming.

discovery channelAre you still mad about that anticlimactic nonsense that was Eaten Alive? We were promised the chance to watch a man, as part of his quest to save the environment, allow himself to be eaten by a giant snake. Instead, the snake got a hold of his arm and he tapped out with his free hand while yelling for help. Gah! That was so dumb.

You know who else thought that was dumb? The new head of the Discovery Channel Rich Ross. (Every time I hear that name I think of this, but moving on.)

Ross wants to do away with all the stunts, fake documentaries and generalized crazy that has made it on air. And he says we should expect these changes in programming in order to reach some key audiences.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour, Ross said this sort of content isn’t “actually right for the Discovery Channel.”

“I don’t think you’ll be sitting with me here next year asking me a question about something I put on—whether a series or a special—where that’s the dilemma,” he continued, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Ross assumed his role at the head of Discovery Channel this month; he was named to the position in October. Deadline Hollywood reports his appearance at the TCA15 event as a successful one. His commitment to changing the lineup at Discovery struck the right chord with an audience who clearly were not fans of Megalodon: The New Evidence, a highly-rated Shark Week show that came off like a documentary but was really something that you should find over on the SyFy Network. While acknowledging that they were successful, he was ready to move on to something new.

“One of the realities of our world and the Discovery Channel that I’ve come into is that it’s more narrowly niche than I think it ever needs to be or should be,” he also said. “I think being more inclusive to women and younger men is a way for us to build back the audience … and and to being the No. 1 TV brand for the whole family.”

It will be interesting to see how the network defines “family programming” going forward. Certainly, no one at Discovery wants to see the network drop dramatically in ratings. But shifting its programming could open doors with brands that would rather not be associated with Megalodon and other wackiness.


Publish date: January 9, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT