Discovery Channel’s Emmy award-winning PLANET EARTH series premiered last spring to critical acclaim, with Oprah Winfrey saying it is “…the most fantastic, beautiful series.” Going to the core of the company's mission to provide the world’s highest quality programming, PLANET EARTH’s goal was to present our world as it had never been seen before, to create an epic HD series and to ensure that millions tuned in.
Documenting the daily struggle for survival in Earth’s natural habitats, PLANET EARTH is the ultimate portrait of our planet. The 11-episode series, filmed entirely in HD, broke new ground in filmmaking techniques and revealed new animals and animal behavior. Ultimately, PLANET EARTH became the most watched cable event of the century.
One of the most ambitious projects Discovery Communications has undertaken, the PLANET EARTH initiative required every part of the company to make it a reality – including special HD premieres, extensive television, print and online advertising, creative out of home marketing, a complete range of affiliate tools and video on demand content, a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and coverage in nearly every major publication across the country.
Created by the team behind the award-winning natural history series BLUE PLANET, more than 70 camera operators spent over 2,000 days in more than 200 locations to document nature’s greatest spectacles for PLANET EARTH. Following each episode, three minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage showed viewers exactly how PLANET EARTH filmmakers secured the series’ most memorable images. Discovery aired PLANET EARTH on its analog channel and also in high definition on Discovery HD Theater, further solidifying the company’s status as one of the top producers of high definition programming in the world. Additional behind the scenes stories and video, and in-depth information about our planet and its animals and habitats, was available on the robust PLANET EARTH website on Discovery.com.
Additionally, Discovery premiered one episode on its Video On Demand service more than a week before the series premiere, accompanied by behind-the-scenes and preview content for other PLANET EARTH episodes. All other PLANET EARTH episodes were featured on VOD the day after they aired on Discovery Channel and Discovery HD Theater.
The PLANET EARTH off-channel television campaign kicked off with local ad placements during the 79th Annual Academy Awards and national ad placements. The print campaign included distribution of 1.2 million DVDs featuring PLANET EARTH clips in the March issues of Time, People and Entertainment Weekly. Online, a banner advertising campaign began a month before the premiere with ads featuring video promos from the series. Discovery Channel took over Yahoo’s homepage advertising space two days before the series premiere.
The campaign also benefited from forward-thinking out of home marketing. In addition to billboards in Los Angeles and New York City, Discovery was the first advertiser of the next generation of out-of-home creative. Discovery installed HD screens featuring PLANET EARTH in 10 bus shelters across Manhattan, transmitting video clips to commuters with Bluetooth enabled phones or devices.
Discovery partnered with the Nature Conservancy to help spread the word about the series among its environmentally conscious members. E-mails about the series were sent to members, preview screenings were held in dozens of cities and PLANET EARTH was promoted on their web site.
Interviews with field producers, camera people and host Sigourney Weaver were used to spread the word about PLANET EARTH. Media coverage for the series included an unprecedented two appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, including one full hour completely devoted to PLANET EARTH. PLANET EARTH was included in over 20 “Best of 2007” lists, including TV Guide, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, Washington Post, New York Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, and MSN.
PLANET EARTH ultimately became the most watched cable event of the century, reaching more than 65 million viewers. The series also received seven EMMY awards, including best nonfiction series. It also received Producer of the Year in Non-Fiction Television from the Producers Guild of America Awards; Best Special/Mini-Series for the Family Television Awards and three Television Critics Association Awards.