What’s happening to our planet?

ECOLOGY: How a massively popular nature TV series can help the world
michael john long
Published date: June 1, 2020
Our Planet-MTR-featured
Arabian leopards in Oman, as seen in Netflix’s Our Planet

As viewership of nature documentary series continues to soar, it’s clear that these types of shows are resonating with audiences and have the ability to change conversations around their subject matter. Take Our Planet, the new series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU). The ambitions of this new series are clear: to «inspire and delight hundreds of millions of people across the world so they can understand our planet and the environmental threat it faces.» That’s what Alastair Fothergill, former head of the NHU and Our Planet co-producer, has said about this high-profile undertaking. Keith Scholey, who is the series co-producer and former NHU Head, reiterated this sentiment to POV, noting that «right from the get-go we were planning a big landmark series, which shows the wonders of the world but really points out what the issues are.» These claims are indicative of the noble aspirations of the filmmakers to simultaneously entertain, educate and conserve while working in the natural history and wildlife genres.

Our Planet is the newest series associated with the NHU’s Planet Collection (2001–), which includes Blue Planet I and II, Planet Earth I and II, and Frozen Planet, all of which have been widely successful. The various series have been recognized with Peabodys, Emmys and BAFTAs, along with viewership that frequently breaks the 10-million mark. Our Planet is envisioned to be more successful than its predecessors, in part due to its Netflix partnership, which will simultaneously release the show in 190 countries to 139 million subscribers. The scale of this release is even more apparent with Netflix utilizing one of the coveted 2019 Super Bowl LIII advertisement spots to promote Our Planet — the only ad spot taken by the platform this year.

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