Interning with National Geographic: Exploration and Storytelling

BP SSobaro

By Samantha Sorbaro, JMC Major, GWU ’16

Everyone at the National Geographic Channel (NGC) was welcoming – it felt like a family. I joined the scheduling and programming department September 2015. The first week consisted of intensive training about the brands of both NGC and NatGeo Wild (WILD). The team encouraged us to ask questions, and immediately taught us the ins and outs of the world of television.

I was assigned two long-term projects, bi-weekly presentations, and tentatively four assignments per week. In addition to weekly WILD staff meetings, we had NGC/WILD scheduling team meetings to ensure that all of our deadlines were met or rescheduled if necessary.

The project I am most proud of completing throughout this internship is definitely the second long-term assignment about the historic HBO. I believe that this information will contribute to NGC’s transforming brand in meaningful ways, which is very exciting as an intern. Initially the vast amount of data I collected was overwhelming. But as I continued to research fiscal year (FY) 2011 – FY 2016, trends emerged in their premiere and repeat strategy. I compiled it in a personalized excel document with an explanatory document. Once completed, it was encouraging that my colleagues were easily able to follow my presentation and data.

Next, I went back and re-assessed my first project about WILD’s scheduling roll out for FY 2015. This project focused on ratings in specific time slots for shows aired in strips. For example, Monster Fish aired for seven weeks, during 1Q15, at an 8:00am time slot. I used Nielsen Data to incorporate COVAA% and (000s) AA ratings. With this information our team will be able to see which shows were most successful during certain days and air-times.

Our intern team of three focused on two to three competitive shows for our bi-weekly group presentations. The presentation consisted of the shows series strategy, international roll out, reviews, ratings and Production Company. The most interesting data we found was during our “live show” themed presentation. We looked at Brain Surgery Live (NGC’s show), Exorcism Live (Destination America’s show), and Buried Alive: Live (A&E show). From the information we found we were able to understand live shows in context. We found that viewers will tune in for live shows due to the unpredictability of the show. This is similar to the excitement of live sporting event programs.

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