National Geographic


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Shutterstock Premier

The production process for a television show can be a harrowing endeavor, with scheduling, budgeting, and licensing issues at every turn. Now multiply that effort across several dozen shows, and you'll begin to have an idea of what it's like running an entire TV production. In this case study, we'll see how a partnership with Shutterstock Premier allowed National Geographic Television (NGTV) to bring new programming to life while maintaining their historic bar of content excellence.

The Client

If there is one brand synonymous with captivating, authentic, and esteemed visuals, it's National Geographic. For over a century, National Geographic has delivered the world's most important stories to a global stage. And since 1997, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) has brought stories to life on television, reaching new audiences in 160 million homes across 143 countries.

The Goals

Known for its nature, science, and educational programming, the National Geographic Channel has several hit shows, including Brain Games, Locked Up Abroad, and Alaska State Troopers. As the NGTV production team worked to produce a complete suite of programming, they realized a distinct need to find quality HD footage at a reasonable price.

The Challenge

Finding imagery to complement footage subject matter turned out to be more challenging than expected for NGTV. "We looked for it all," said Catherine Yelloz, Director of Production Rights and Clearances at National Geographic Television. "Master and content quality, fast delivery, and reasonable license fees. Sometimes one company would have the quality, but the fees were exorbitant; another would be able to deliver quickly but they did not have HD."

The Shutterstock Premier Solution

In finding Shutterstock Premier, NGTV found a partner for success in their video production work. NGTV was excited to find one material source that offered enough diversity to meet the needs of their many productions, all while operating in an uncomplicated delivery process. The availability of HD footage within each show's budget made Shutterstock Premier the go-to source for licensable footage clips to supplement production content.

But the partnership between NGTV and Shutterstock Premier thrives for reasons beyond a library of quality creative assets. NGTV knows they can count on Shutterstock Premier for strong visuals, but they also know they can count on Shutterstock Premier for an even stronger customer service experience. "Over the years," Yelloz said, "Shutterstock has always been at the top of the list. It was nice to know that we could talk to someone and discuss our issues. The staff was, and is, always willing to work with us."

"Over the years," Yelloz said, "Shutterstock has always been at the top of the list. It was nice to know that we could talk to someone and discuss our issues. The staff was, and is, always willing to work with us."

The Results

The trust and close relationship between NGTV and Shutterstock Premier enables a tight-knit partnership that continues to bring countless works to life. One NGC series alone downloaded more than 1,700 Shutterstock Premier clips for production use during three seasons of filming.

Starting in 2011 as a special feature, Brain Games returned to the silver screen in 2013 as an NGC regular, and celebrated the highest premiere rating for the channel with 1.5 million viewers. Explaining abstract ideas ranging from why time can seem to move slowly, to how illusions work requires a strong set of visual components. With episodes designed to bend viewers' minds and present thought exercises, Brain Games incorporates Shutterstock Premier imagery to illustrate scientific concepts brought to life. "Brain Games," Yelloz said, "could not have been done without those images."

While Brain Games focused on the abstract, Shutterstock Premier images were also used to bring to life the very real world of tasty treats in Eat: the Story of Food. The six-hour mini series explored the history of food and our relationship with it. An all-star roster of chefs ranging from Padma Lakshmi, to Nigella Lawson, Rachael Ray, and Marcus Samuelsson contributed stories and reflections on how food has shaped their lives as well as the world we live in. Thanks to a sweet (and salty) collection of visuals from Shutterstock Premier, the series was a delicious success.

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