In an afternoon full of announcements from Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild, perhaps none of them was bigger—in a literal and cosmic sense—than the announcement that Cosmos will return to Fox and National Geographic in 2019.
In 2014, when Cosmos made its triumphant return, the show attracted 135 million people worldwide, and became the most-watched series ever in Nat Geo’s history.
“One simple idea is at the heart of science and at the heart of Cosmos,” said executive producer Ann Druyan. “It matters what’s true. Science is such a powerful form of knowledge because it never breaks that rule. That means that it can take us to the stars, it can be an instruction manual for saving our civilization and the future of our planet and all the species on it.”
In addition to Druyan, Cosmos: Possible Worlds comes from executive producers Seth MacFarlane (The Orville), Brannon Braga (The Orville) and Jason Clark (Ted), while Neil deGrasse Tyson returns to host the 13-part series.
“We hope to employ new means of visual storytelling that will make this Cosmos even more transporting and inspiring than the other ones were,” said Druyan. “Our amazing team is so excited to work on something that’s meaningful with a network that really cares about such things.”
To coincide with the series, National Geographic Books will publish Cosmos: Possible Worlds, the long-awaited follow-up to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
Courteney Monroe, chief executive officer, National Geographic Global Networks, echoed the prevailing sentiment that it will be “business as usual” for her stable of networks following the Disney-Fox acquisition.
“We are maintaining focus on our creatively ambitious premium programming strategy and continuing to build on our extraordinary momentum we’ve built thus far,” she said.
“Competition for attention is stronger than ever, and there’s no way to break through without being exceptional,” said Monroe of the reasons for Nat Geo’s “aggressive push in premium, distinctive content.”
Nat Geo continues to strive for “entertainment with purpose,” promising 27 percent of its profits to the nonprofit National Geographic Society.
“Creatively excellent content within a vital brand is the recipe for success and to be meaningful to consumers, advertisers and distributors,” said Monroe. “We’re more vibrant and clearly defined than at any time in our modern history. The yellow border is both revered and relevant—a powerful and rare combo.”
Emmy Award-winning host Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race) will be the new host of Explorer when it comes back for 20 episodes starting this fall. Subjects on Explorer‘s new season include the future of farming in Europe, Hamas-run tunnels in the Gaza strip, and the return of Australia’s saltwater crocodiles.
Fresh off 10 Emmy nominations and the network’s first ever Golden Globe nomination, Nat Geo’s event series Genius returns on April 24 at 9/8c with a two-hour premiere. The 10-part series stars Antonio Banderas as the titular genius and season-two focus, Pablo Picasso.
After two seasons focusing on European men, producer Brian Grazer confirmed that they are “zeroing in on a woman” for season three.
National Geographic also greenlit a third season of its Emmy-nominated series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, which will arrive in 2019. The network hopes to keep the good vibes going, signing a first-look deal with Lori McCreary and Morgan Freeman’s production company Revelations Entertainment.
From there, Nat Geo further outlined its slate of 2018 programming.
Chain of Command, an eight-part documentary series that goes inside the Pentagon’s fight against extremism, arrives Monday, January 15,at 9/8c with a two-hour premiere.
Brett Morgen’s acclaimed documentary Jane, on the shortlist for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars, comes Monday March 12 at 8/7c in a commercial-free simulcast presentation on both National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild.
From producers Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and Jane Root (America: The Story of Us), One Strange Rock premieres Monday, March 26 at 9/8c with a two-hour premiere. Hosted by Will Smith, the 10-part event series tells the small, quaint story of why life exists on Earth, from the point of view of astronauts.
America Inside Out With Katie Couric, a six-part series that will explore the most contentious issues facing America, premieres Wednesday, April 11 at 10/9c. The show will look at gender inequality, Muslims in America, political correctness, Confederate monuments, white working class anxiety and technology’s impact on our humanity.
Switching gears to Nat Geo Wild, the network announced Symphony for Our World, an hourlong special that marries natural spectacles with music from Emmy and BAFTA-nominated Bleeding Fingers Music to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday April 22.
To bolster its impact, Nat Geo Wild will present 90-minute live orchestral performances around the world, kicking off with a show at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco on Earth Day. For performance dates and ticket information, check its website.
“This Earth Day, Nat Geo Wild wants to remind people how awe inspiring and magical life on Earth can be,” said Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager of Nat Geo Wild, in a statement. “By combining the incredible talent of Bleeding Fingers’ composers with National Geographic’s most breathtaking wildlife cinematography, we hope Symphony for Our World will ignite our global audience’s passion for this miracle of a planet we call home and move everyone to join us in protecting it for generations to come.”
The commercial-free telecast will be broadcast globally in 140 countries.
Before Nat Geo Wild tries to save the world, they hope to draw some eyes away from the Oscars with their own furry version of the red carpet: Puppy Bowl meet the Pawscars. On Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, Nat Geo Wild From the Red Carpet will feature interviews with Meryl Sheep, Jimmy Kibble, Cat Damon, Cobra Winfrey, KangaRooney Mara, Bunnifer Lawrence, and likely as many animals as they can come up with puns for.
Hosted by Ross Mathews and Sarina Morales, the special will be simulcast online with PeopleTV and the PeopleTV app.
Other premiere dates include:
The Road to Westminster Dog Show, a special airing Sunday, February 11, focuses on show pets and their owners preparing for the Super Bowl of dog shows.
A new season of The Incredible Dr. Pol premieres Saturdays at 9/8c through March.
Viewers get to glimpse America’s Wild Frontier when the new series premieres Friday March 2 at 8/7c.
When Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue premieres Saturday March 10 at 10/9c, the show puts the spotlight on the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
New series The Supervet shines a light on one of the biggest veterinary hospitals in the world in Surrey, England, premiering Sunday, March 11 at 10/9c.
Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER premieres Sunday, March 18 at 9/8c.
The camera turns to The Mighty Northwest in April.
The next season of Hawaii-based mobile vet show Buckeye Bottoms premieres Saturday, April 7, 9/8c.
Starting in April, survivalist Les Stroud takes on the Alaska Grizzly Gauntlet.
Zoo Life, a show taking a look at the world-renowned Columbus Zoo and Aquarium with Jack Hanna, and Wild Russia, both premiere in June.