The National Geographic Channel is gambling on encouraging viewers to DVR its programs. With "Wild Justice" set to debut at the same time as an NFL game, Nat Geo is running a spot basically saying: "We're fans too, set the DVR and catch us later."
In the creative, men "pledge" to watch football -- to maintain their manhood -- but also set their DVRs to record the new show. Some are in football jerseys; one is eating buffalo wings with a sauce-covered bib. The message is then hammered home in a voiceover: "Record Wild Justice, Sunday at 9."
Spots are running on ESPN2, as well as regional sports networks in five markets and within sports programming on DirecTV. In the ad, the network pokes fun at its curious decision. "Terrible idea," one man says.
Nat Geo has scheduled the male-targeted "Wild Justice" to premiere Sunday evening opposite the Indianapolis-San Diego game on NBC.
The "record-now, watch-later" message carries the risk that viewers will skip the ads completely during playback. On the flip side, ratings now take into account some DVR-aided viewing, so ads that are watched will still give Nat Geo currency.
While it is unlikely that networks will do more than one-offs in promoting DVR viewing, the strategy could serve as a way to build sampling. With luck, viewers will be entranced enough to begin watching live.
"Wild Justice," which follows California game wardens, will premiere in back-to-back episodes Sunday during the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours. It then moves to its regular Wednesday at 10 p.m. slot, where the NFL will not pose any competition, although popular college and NBA basketball broadcasts will.
The high-energy series is from executive producer Thom Beers and the wardens not only protect wildlife but "take on illegal drugs, dangerous fugitives and urban gangsters on a beat that stretches from residential backyards to rugged back country," Nat Geo says.