Pumpkins Get Their Wings Again in This Year’s Annual ‘Punkin Chunkin’

November 26, 2014 | by lstewart

Hosts Kari Byron and Tory Belleci clear the scene as Yankee Farmer Steve Seigars gets ready to pull the trigger.

Ready and…launch! Much like the way the holidays seem to have come barreling towards us this year, pumpkin after pumpkin will be sent rocketing across the sky in Punkin Chunkin, airing Saturday November 29 at 8pm ET/CT on Science Channel and Discovery.

Hosted by Mythbusters own Tory Belleci and Kari Byron, the annual pumpkin-throwing contest is not for the faint of heart; while catapults and slingshots may have been the propellers of choice back when Punkin Chunkin started in 1986, the event has evolved to include military-grade cannons and trebuchets – and a commanding knowledge of everything from physics, mechanics and engineering.

Participating teams spend most of the year preparing, which includes everything from designing and building the propellers, hosting a series of dry runs and choosing the best, most aerodynamic pumpkins to send flying. Is it worth it? I’d say hard work pays off: last year’s winner, Brian Labrie, launched a pumpkin 4,694.68 feet!

Though the event was relocated from Delaware to Greenfield, New Hampshire this year, that didn’t stop hundreds of people from showing up to see pumpkins sail through the air (and land with a resounding “splat!”). Tune in to Punkin Chunkin this Saturday at 8pm ET/CT on Science Channel and Discovery to see if this year’s competitors were able to best Labrie’s 2013 record.

(Interested in learning more about Punkin Chunkin? Check out this AMA Tory and Kari hosted on Reddit earlier this week.)

Don’t miss other holiday specials & programs running through the weekend:

  • Revenge of the Whale, Animal Planet, November 26 at 9pm ET/CT
  • When Turkeys Attack, Destination America, November 26 at 10pm ET/CT
  • Tanksgiving, American Heroes Channel, November 27th at 12pm ET/CT through 6am ET/CT November 28
  • Pit Bulls and Parolees: Giving Thanks, Animal Planet, November 29 at 10pm ET/CT

Hosts Kari Byron and Tory Belleci take part in the pumpkin’s final weigh-in.

Team Yankee Siege makes final adjustments for 1,000lb pumpkin chunk.

Yankee Farmer Steve Seigars’€™ 10,000lb mace.

Host Kari Byron and Fat Jimmy cheer on the chunkers.

Animal Planet L!VE’s ‘Reindeer Cam’ Is Back Bringing 24/7 Online Holiday Cheer

November 25, 2014 | by lstewart

Last week, people in all 50 states experienced freezing temperatures, and with more than half of the states seeing snow cover, I’d say winter has definitely arrived! While the quick freeze may be the tip of the seasonal iceberg, it also means the start of a warm holiday season – with family gatherings, festive dinners and plenty of laughter and cheer to go around. What better way to celebrate the start of it all than with Animal Planet L!VE’s Reindeer Cam?

While their extended family is helping Santa and his elves at the North Pole prepare for the Christmas holiday, two reindeer who make their home at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota are ready to delight online audiences for the second year in a row. Aware of the impending attention that would soon descend upon them, the reindeer wasted no time decorating their homes – with holiday lights, pine branches, a map of Santa’s route and even a countdown to Christmas displayed over the doorway.

Available at apl.tv/reindeer, the camera is live now through the holiday season, so be sure to tune in and keep a special lookout for Santa, who will be stopping by December 19th, 22nd and 23rd to visit with the reindeer, feed them treats straight from the North Pole and even share special messages for Animal Planet L!VE viewers.

Whether you enjoy the cam on your smartphone or tablet on your morning commute or on the big screen through Animal Planet L!VE’s apps on Amazon Fire, Roku or Xbox, there are two reindeer eager to give you a dose of holiday cheer wherever you are!

TV and Mobile Device Usage: Two Sides of the Coin

November 24, 2014 | by aharris

Today’s guest post on Discovery Blog is from Pam Pearce, Senior Director of Ad Sales Research, for Discovery Communications.

Discovery Communications LogoIs simultaneous usage of personal mobile devices competition for or a complement to “traditional” television viewing? The quick answer to that question is, “it depends.”

There are those who point out that the ever-increasing number of mobile devices used while watching TV (which we’ve defined for this study as viewership on a traditional TV set) is a pure distraction, decreasing the attention paid to content on the “big screen.” While there are certainly numerous circumstances where that is true, there also is growing evidence that having a second device within easy reach while watching can provide a more interactive and engaging experience. The potential to unlock this “Engagement Effect” is likely greater than previously understood and can be facilitated by advertisers and content producers alike.

In the past few years, the number of devices TV viewers have at their fingertips has grown significantly. In 2014, 42% of U.S adults own a tablet (Source: Pew Internet and American Life), and smartphone penetration has grown to seven in 10 adults (Source: Nielsen). For many, these devices have become constant companions, as nearly eight in 10 smartphone owners report having their phone on or near them for all but up to two hours of their waking day (Source: MediaBistro’s All Twitter). While these always-on and always-around devices did not create multitasking viewers, they have significantly expanded the opportunities to engage with other activities while watching TV. Not surprisingly, this has led some marketers to voice concerns around simultaneous usage and its impact on television’s advertising effectiveness.

Discovery Communications asked viewers of its networks (specifically, those owning mobile devices) to learn more about their simultaneous usage and perceptions of the impact mobile devices are having on their TV viewing. The results of the survey show that while large numbers are using their mobile device while watching TV (82%), the majority do not see them as a distraction. 52% of viewers say that even when they are using a mobile device they are paying more attention to the TV show or program while it is on.

Smartphones Dominate Among All Ages

Not surprisingly, smartphones are the most commonly used device used while watching TV, with 45% of respondents saying they used one the last time they were watching. This percentage is higher among younger viewers (A18-34), at 55%. After smartphones, the mobile device of choice varies by age. While Adults 18-34 are reaching for their laptops (49%), among Adults 35-54, tablets are the next device of choice (35%).

Device Usage While Watching TV

Social (But Not Social Media) Drives Usage of Mobile While Watching

Television is one of the most talked about topics on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Among Discovery viewers, however, it is other social activities that are driving them to reach for their mobile devices while watching TV. We continue to see evidence of the relevance of texting – with 62% of viewers saying they text with friends or family while watching TV. While the majority (56%) of viewers report using their mobile device to check social media while watching TV, far less are active – with just 36% updating their status on a social platform and 18% Tweeting.

Nearly a Quarter of Second-Screen Activity Related to the TV

Activities such as checking email, playing games and watching video content are popular among simultaneous users. While some of these can be perceived as competitive, drawing attention away from the TV screen, there are many other activities viewers take part in while watching TV that can be complimentary, enhancing their TV viewing experience.

Competitive vs. Complementary

A large majority of those polled (61%) say they look up information on their mobile device as they view. Nearly half say they browse for products online, with 27% making purchases while watching TV. Overall, the survey found that 23% of viewers’ simultaneous mobile activities are related to what they are watching on TV. There is evidence that the usage of mobile devices may in fact be beneficial to commercial impact. 28% of viewers reported they are more likely to search for a product advertised on TV if they are using their mobile device while watching. A similar percent say they are less likely to fast forward through what they are watching if they are using a mobile device.

Whether it is competitive or complementary, there are some occasions where viewers are not looking for a simultaneous experience. This is especially true when a show draws them in. High show engagement results in lower simultaneous mobile device usage. 76% of viewers say they use their mobile device less when watching a show they are really enjoying. Still, there are some viewers who opt to not make a choice as to which screen to look at. According to the study, 33% of viewers say they pause their TV when they want to use their mobile device.

The truth is viewers have always had the opportunity to engage in simultaneous activities while watching television, be it reading a book or magazine, having a conversation with someone, etc. For many, today’s mobile devices are just replacements for other types of simultaneous behavior they were already engaging in. A key difference, however, is that these devices also create new opportunities – both for the viewers to become informed and act and for marketers to connect and engage.

This Week In…Discovery Buzz

November 21, 2014 | by cshirley

Discovery BuzzWhile it’s getting chilly here on the East Coast, winter programming is heating up! We’re wrapping up a busy week packed with exciting announcements and new programs across several networks. Just this week, several announcements made headlines, including Stacy London’s new TLC series Love, Lust, or Runpremiering January 23, as well as Destination America adding TNA Impact Wrestling to its lineup, also debuting in January. Additionally, Science Channel‘s upcoming All-American Makers was praised by the Obama administration yesterday at the White House where the President awarded the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to several deserving recipients.

In case you missed it, here are some other highlights from this week:

Discovery Channel Ranks #1 in Beta Research Satellite Dish Subscriber Study for 19 Years in a Row

November 19, 2014 | by lstewart

The 2014 Beta Research Satellite Dish Subscriber Evaluation Study results were released today, and once again, Discovery Channel leads in top rankings. For the 19th year in a row, the network ranked #1 in importance to the enjoyment of satellite service among total adults. Discovery Channel also ranked #1 for the second year in a row for importance among adult satellite subscribers who would definitely switch providers if the channel was dropped. Of those adults who reported they would switch providers if the channel was dropped, Discovery Chanel ranked #1 on average perceived value (tie) and as a favorite channel (tie).

Other notable study results for Discovery Communications’ networks include:

  • Among persons viewing TV on a smartphone or tablet, Discovery Channel ranked #1 on importance and #1 as a favorite channel (tie).
  • Discovery Channel ranked #1 on importance among heavy social media users.
  • Discovery Channel ranked #1 on average perceived value among adults age 18-34 (tie) and women (tie).
  • In comparison to all ad-supported cable networks, Investigation Discovery ranked #1 on percent of total viewers very satisfied with the network (tie).
  • Science Channel and American Heroes Channel ranked #1 (tie) among digital basic networks on percent of male viewers very satisfied with the network.

Three Families Go Off The Grid in TLC’s ‘Risking It All’

November 18, 2014 | by lstewart

We’ve all had times when we’ve wished we could unplug from our chaotic worlds, if only for a second, and enjoy a peaceful moment to ourselves before reemerging back into the never-ending hum of buzzes, beeps, tones and chirps. I know I’ve wished for those moments myself, and yet, when I’ve had them for any extended period of time, I’ve worried that I’ve started to become cut off from civilization. (In a 16-day trip to Switzerland a couple years ago, I stressed non-stop for the better part of the first week about not having my iPhone on me. And that was in the beautiful Swiss countryside!)

Imagine what it would be like, then, in a world where technology and personal devices have practically become extensions of ourselves, to cut yourself off completely. That’s the premise for TLC’s Risking it All, premiering tonight at 10pm ET/CT. Three families have chosen to live off the grid – not only giving up their electronics but also electricity itself and running water – in an attempt to reconnect with one another.

Each of the families has a different reason for embarking on the life-changing adventure – from attempting to save their marriage to dealing with family illness to regaining control of their relationships. However vastly different their backgrounds may be, what they take away from the experience, though, is the same: a better understanding of how they can coexist with their family members when all modern day conveniences and amenities are removed, and, ultimately, a better appreciation for one another.

Check out a sneak peek of Risking It All below, and don’t miss the series premiere tonight!