Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Discovery’s New Velocity Channel: What Do Rich Men Want? What’s the Sweet Spot? Plus: Who’s Next for a Re-name?

Discovery’s new, Male-targeted Velocity digi-net replaces HD Theater in October 2011.  

  • HD Theater was launched in 2002, but outgrew its value as a premium channel when HD became the “the new Standard Def.”


Velocity is a Lifestyle channel “for the Rich Man — the successful, college-educated man who earns $150,000 or more a year and who wants to know how to spend his time and money.”

Target Audience

According to Census Bureau data cited by Discovery and reported this week in The New York Times:

  • 4 million of the 118 million U.S. men age 15+ have incomes of more than $150,000
  • Another 6 million earn between $100,000-150,000

Program Categories           

  • Lifestyle
  • Cars
  • Tech
  • Outdoor Recreation.


The new Velocity inventory combines:

  • HD Theater’s catalog of Male-targeted programs, for example Inside West Coast Customs, Chasing Classic Cars and Mecum Auto Auction.
  • New series like Epic Poker League, Extreme Fishing and Tech Toys.
  • Promotional programming partnerships, beginning with NFL Films.


  • 40 million out of 100+ million U.S.cable/satellite homes


  • According to Discovery, Velocity will premiere 140 hours of programming in 2011.

Key Contact                                         

  • The executive responsible for content is Robert S. Scanlon


  • CNBC (financial news), ESPN, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, HBO, WealthTV

The Sweet Spot

  • The ‘Sweet Spot’ is a network’s benchmark cost for a fully-owned commission.
  • New and rebranding channels may pay all over the map for programs that will earn attention in a cluttered environment.

Our highly qualified sense of Velocity’s ‘Sweet Spot’ is:

  • Hour: $175,000 +/-
  • Half hour: $90,000 +/-

Takeaways 1:  Targeting Porsche-driving Males

Discovery faces lots of challenges in delivering its target audience of ‘Rich Males’

  • Rich men already own the Porsche. They want to drive it, and not watch TV.
  • Wealthy Males are not heavy TV viewers. They’re having too much fun!
  • When Rich Males watch TV, their bias is towards CNBC for financial news, Fox News, premium networks like HBO, and upmarket Sports channels like Golf and Tennis.

Aspirational Porsche owners come from all income segments.

  • Velocity’s programs will attract viewers who aren’t wealthy, but who love Rich Male toys.
  • These viewers will dilute the target demo and therefore the premium that advertisers will pay for an upscale audience.

The commercial art of network television worldwide is to create a persuasive brand that will attract distribution and advertising, and to scale the operating costs, particularly for programming,  to the initially modest revenue streams.

  • Discovery has enjoyed massive successes and some failures as it pursued this exacting discipline. 
  • We look forward to tracking Velocity as its team attempts to nail down the Porsche Male.

Takeaways 2:  On Channel Re-branding

Previous Discovery re-brands include:

  • Discovery Times was a joint venture with The New York Times Company 
    • The video-klutzy NYT management abandoned the JV after DT’s high-minded programming failed to be profitable. It didn’t help that the newspaper business was imploding at about that time.
    • Discovery rebranded the channel ID: Investigation Discoverynow one of the hottest properties in U.S. multi-channel television
  • Discovery Health went sideways when it was re-launched as the over-hyped and under-delivering OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
    • After spending upwards of $200 million, OWN has gained about 30,000 average prime time viewers versus the Health channel it replaced.
    • We have read speculation that Discovery may run out of patience and pull the plug on OWN. There’s a lot of pressure on the Rosie O’Donnell show to save the day.
  • fitTV became Discovery Fit & Health, absorbing the Discovery Health library and brand
  • Discovery Kids evolved into The Hub, a joint venture with toymaker Hasbro
  • The Learning Channel was Discovery’s 1st channel acquisition or brand extension, becoming TLC in 1991
  • The Planet Green management team was recently over-hauled.
    • Programs have shifted completely off Green.
    • The new direction is Travel/Adventure, including Food.
    • There’s a new name on the way.

And don’t forget the father of all re-branding miscues:

  • Turner took full control of CourtTV, and in 2008 rebranded it truTV under the tagline ‘Not reality. Actuality.’
  • Turner abandoned CourtTV’s focus on the rock-steady, Female-appealing Crime genre.
  • Meanwhile, Discovery seized the opportunity to launch ID in place of the failed Discovery Times.
  • And now Discovery Networks owns Unscripted Crime!


Speaking Engagement                      

New York State Bar Association
Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section

“Anatomy Of A Hit Reality TV Series: The Pawn Stars Case Study”
This remarkable panel is comprised of the Executive Producer, Agent and Network Programming Executive of Pawn Stars.
The panel will discuss the key decisions made in the process of creating, producing and launching cable television’s #1 reality series.

Brent Montgomery, Executive Producer, Leftfield Pictures
Mary Donahue, Executive Producer, A&E Television
Rob Miller, Agent, Peleton Entertainment
Peter Hamilton,

Wednesday October 19, 2011
9:10 – 10:50AM
Concierge Conference Center
780 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Click here for more information

And to better prepare for the panel, read our Pawn Stars Case Study: The Rise and Rise of Leftfield Pictures and Pawn Stars

  1. Leftfield’s hard slog to the big idea in Vegas (1/4)
  2. Pawn Stars: Sizzle, Pitch, Green Light and Hit (2/4)
  3. Leftfield Pictures after Pawn Stars: A Structure, Doors Open, Renewals, Pitches, Green Lights. What Next? (3/4)
  4. Pawn Stars: Leftfield Puts Casting Under a Microscope (4/4)
  5. Plus: ‘Ten Negotiation Secrets from the Pawn Stars’ by management consultant Gary Greene