Since Rupert Murdoch’s Fox media empire purchased National Geographic in 2015, the venerable magazine and publisher underwent a series of dramatic changes. In addition to a series of executive shuffles, the company has in recent months embraced a new, original content TV strategy that it hopes will position it as the “HBO of the science, adventure and travel” category.

As part of this initiative National Geographic will soon release a new Hollywood-style series called “Genius.” The first season, which will focus on the life of Albert Einstein, stars actor Geoffrey Rush. National Geographic is also partnering up with Hollywood heavyweights like Ron Howard and Brian Grazer to assist with creative development.

The move raises a question that many traditional travel media brands are asking. How does a brand typically associated with adventure and exploration rebrand itself for the digital age? Is trying to develop original TV programming a smart move for a travel brand?

Read on for the rest of this week’s stories, plus more analysis.

National Geographic Discusses Plans for Relaunch of its TV Channel
The launch of National Geographic’s new original content series “Genius” marks a distinct change in direction for this beloved travel institution. Does Nat Geo’s move suggest we’ll be seeing less reality-style travel television, and more high-quality, Hollywood-style, entertainment? Comments from the media organization’s top executives suggest this will be their new direction moving forward. Read more

What’s the Future of In-flight Entertainment?
In-flight entertainment (IFE) screens have long been a staple of international and cross-country flights. But with in-flight Wi-Fi continuing to improve, and more passengers bringing their own laptops, smartphones and tablets on board, the need for these expensive entertainment systems is evolving. Here’s an analysis of how different carriers like American, JetBlue, Delta and Aeromexico are thinking about the future of IFE. Read more

Are Trump’s Immigration Policies Causing a Decline in Mexico Trips?
Ostensibly, the goal of the Trump Administration’s revised immigration policies is to keep certain visitors out of the country. But, according to interviews with a growing number of travel agents, the policies may also be having the unintended effect of keeping more Americans inside our borders as well. Agents report a spike this month in cancelled or postponed trips to Mexico, citing changing immigration policies as a key factor. Read more

Report Suggests Free Amenities May Help Boost Hotels’ Bottom Line
Figuring out the right mix of free and paid amenities is a constant guessing game for hotel managers. But, according to a new report from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, offering free amenities may just pay off. The report noted a short-term boost in return on investment for brands offering complimentary benefits like Internet access and bottled water. Read more

Google Adds New ‘Favorite Locations’ Feature to Maps App
Location-based marketing continues to be an intriguing area for many marketers. One sign of the increasing maturity of location-based products is a new feature from Google Maps that lets users save businesses and places of interest to a “Favorite Locations” list. Read more

 

Photo Credit: National Geographic is investing more money into original TV content to try and become the next 'HBO of travel.' Will it work? Jose Francisco Del Valle Mojica / Flickr