National Geographic has high hopes for its website, but it’s clear that a quick cash boost isn’t one of them.
Jacinta Lenehan, acting managing director of National Geographic Channel Australia/NZ, laughs when asked if revenue is one of the drivers behind the website’s Explorer’s Club. “There’s no revenue, I can tell you that!” she hoots.
Instead, the local Geographic office is happy to invest in the website with the expectation it will offer some value to channel subscribers and non-subscribers. “The driver is value-add,” Lenehan says. “National Geographic is all about the brand.”
The Explorer’s Club is a members’ section of the website where services such as mailing lists, competitions, travel discounts, stories and seminars are offered. Membership is free; the Geographic is attracting new members with a competition for a trip to Peru’s Inca Trail.
Other features such as forums and streaming video are planned. “We want it to be really interactive.”
Lenehan says other Geographic offices around the world are watching the Explorer’s Club with interest. The organisation is naturally conservative — Lenehan says it completes 28 hours of fact-checking for each hour of programming — but the concept of the website adding value to the channel has provoked interest.
“Really, the online is an extension [of the channel] and nobody else is doing that,” she says. “We know pay TV is expensive, so if you can’t get that or if you’re not a subscriber, there’s more.”
Lenehan says over 6000 people joined the Explorer's Club in its first six weeks. She was in Auckland attending "Through The Lens", a seminar presented last week by photographer Ian Lloyd.