Nat Geo staffs up new commercial division

National Geographic has hired Darren Poynton to spearhead its new commercial arm, National Geographic Ventures International (NGVI). Poynton will report to NGVI boss Maurice van Sabben, who also runs Nat Geo program sales arm NGTI. London-based Poynton, who joins after nine years at Nat Geo’s European channels arm will also have a dual role, also heading up finance at NGTI.

The new division, announced in May, has responsibility for all home entertainment, VOD, download-to-own and other digital services. Games, maps and VOD are a priority. The US-based NGV division has also had success with mobile services and NGVI will look to build on that internationally. It is working on deals now, with the first announcements expected around MIPCOM.

“There were a couple of realisations,” says van Sabben. “New devices and broadband penetration mean creating digital products becomes easier and there is more money – a lot of media companies want to play in these fields and it is difficult to service them from one location – hence the creation of NGVI.”

“We want to be able to come to media companies with a new, diversified range of products,” Poynton said. “The the only way to get deals away is by having a local presence and people that know the local landscape. Media companies have local strategies, the US model does not necessarily fit the Asian business model or the European model, which is why we have started NGVI.”

NGVI will service European and Asian markets and with people on the ground in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, these will be an early focus. “We have created the [local] infrastructure over the past fifteen years and this is about leveraging that,” van Sabben said.

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