Branding Environmentalism for TV: The Rise and Fall of Planet Green

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Branding Environmentalism for TV: The Rise and Fall of Planet Green

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


This dissertation analyzes the rise and fall of Planet Green, Discovery Communications Inc.'s short-lived multiplatform, environmentalism-themed media brand. Launched in 2008, Planet Green billed itself as "the first 24-hour network devoted to the green lifestyle."� It promised to "bring green to the mainstream"� with a full lineup of environmentalist lifestyle and reality television, environmental news and documentaries, and two websites with a wide array of eco-games and quizzes, consumer advice, DIY projects, an open-ended discussion forum, and short-form videos. But despite a huge and successful launch and a significant programming budget, by 2012, Discovery announced that Planet Green would be cancelled and replaced with Destination America, a male-targeted lifestyle network aimed at a "between the coasts crown,"� said Discovery spokespeople. With shows like BBQ Pitmasters, United States of Food, Fast Food Mania, and Epic RV's, the new channel offered a kind of macho celebration of patriotism and consumerist excess that seemed to applaud the very things that Planet Green cautioned viewers against. My dissertation argues that Planet Green's rise and fall must be understood at the place where contemporary branding meets neoliberal governmentality. It was structured by the simultaneous industrial impulses to "govern through television"� on the one hand, and to maximize profits in an increasingly competitive cable TV market on the other. When it came to branding environmentalism in particular, these simultaneous impulses were in deep conflict and generated a great deal of anxiety among industry insiders. I show that Planet Green took shape in a manner designed to ease these anxieties through branding. In the end, however, even with Discovery's extensive resources and professed commitment to the environment, Planet Green was unable to overcome the tensions between profits and planet saving.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Laurie Ouellette. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 308 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Zimmerman, Heidi. (2015). Branding Environmentalism for TV: The Rise and Fall of Planet Green. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.