|Founded||September 9, 2015|
|Headquarters||1145 17th St NW, |
Washington, DC 20036,
|Gary E. Knell (Chairman)|
National Geographic Partners, LLC is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company (which owns 73% of shares) and the namesake non-profit scientific organization National Geographic Society (which owns 27%). The company oversees all commercial activities related to the Society, including magazine publications and television channels.
The company was originally established by 21st Century Fox (21CF) and the National Geographic Society; following the completion of Disney's acquisition of 21CF on March 20, 2019, Disney assumed 21CF's share in the joint venture.
The joint venture was established in 2015, but the National Geographic Society's relationship with 21st Century Fox goes as far as back to late 1990s, when the original News Corporation (which 21st Century Fox is one of the successors) launched National Geographic Channel (now simply branded as National Geographic) in Asia and Europe, in partnership with the Society. The original American version of the channel was launched in 2001.
On September 9, 2015, the Society announced that it would re-organize its media properties and publications into a new company known as National Geographic Partners, which would be majority-owned by 21st Century Fox with a 73% stake. This new, for-profit corporation, would own National Geographic and other magazines, as well as its affiliated television networks—most of which were already owned in joint ventures with Fox. At the time of the deal's announcement, James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, quoted as saying in remarks to National Geographic that the pact created "an expanded canvas for the National Geographic brand to grow and reach customers in new ways, and to reach new customers."
On November 2, 2015, roughly two weeks before the closing of the expanded joint venture deal, National Geographic and 21st Century Fox announced that 9 percent of National Geographic's 2,000 employees, approximately 180 people, would be laid off, constituting the biggest staff reduction in the Society's history.
On October 26, 2016, National Geographic announced a rebrand and the television network dropped "Channel" from its name.
As a part of the acquisition of most 21st Century Fox assets, The Walt Disney Company took over 21CF's controlling stake in the joint venture. Following the acquisition, National Geographic Partners' television channels became part of the Walt Disney Television unit; with the president of the National Geographic Partners reporting directly to the Walt Disney Television chairman. Disney officially closed the deal on March 20, 2019.
The National Geographic-branded television channels are operated as a part of this venture, but Disney's companies (Walt Disney Television in the United States, Fox Networks Group outside the United States) handle distribution and advertisement sales of the channels. In most cases internationally, the National Geographic and Disney channels cross-promote each other. In some territories, the versions of National Geographic channels are directly operated by Disney.
In 2019, National Geographic’s documentary Free Solo won Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards. The film was the second-highest grossing documentary of 2018.