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Viasat embarks on local exploration

Viasat is localising its pan-European factual network Explorer by rolling out three new feeds and picking up a host of new shows.

Charlie Boorman Extreme Frontiers

Charlie Boorman Extreme Frontiers

From today, the male-skewing pay-TV channel will be split into one network covering the Nordic and Baltic countries, another for Central and Eastern Europe and Ukraine, and a third for Russia and the remaining territories in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The three new channels will be tailored to their individual markets, offering Viasat greater scheduling flexibility and the chance to pick up new shows where previously rights may not have been available across the entire region.

Explorer launched in 2002, initially in Scandinavia and then across Europe the following year. It now sits alongside Viasat History, Viasat Nature and Viasat History/Nature HD in the broadcast group’s factual network portfolio.

The channel is also available in Africa, where it will be unaffected by the European changes.

Karin Heijink, VP of Viasat pay-TV channels east, told C21: “Viasat Explorer is our generalist factual channel with a broad scope of topics and subjects. It’s mainly male-skewing although we do have a loyal female audience.

“It’s looking at celebrating real men, their passions and everyday lives. It’s not about experts, it’s the guy who starts doing things without reading the manual.”

To coincide with the roll-out of its localised feeds, Explorer has picked up a host of new shows. Extreme Frontiers with Charlie Boorman, from Big Earth Productions; science series This Vs That, from Beyond Distribution; and Richard Hammond’s Crash Course, from BBC Worldwide, will all debut this month.

New shows coming up later this year include World’s Toughest Trucker, Deadliest Warrior and Ice Pilots.

“Now the channel is 10, it is time to split the feed to be able to cater better for local needs,” said Heijink. “It also gives us much more flexibility in the schedules and in acquisition of content. Our channel had a very large footprint across a lot of different countries, which made the availability of content quite difficult sometimes.

“Beforehand, there was one feed across different time zones. Now we can schedule specifically for Russia, where access prime is a key area for us to focus on. People there keep watching until quite late as well, so that’s something we can now focus on and try to get our viewers in on those time slots.”

Heijink added that she is looking for science series that can air across the channel, while crime and crime-related series are also popular in the Nordics and Central and Eastern Europe. “We definitely see personality- and character-led programmes being more and more popular,” she said.


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