EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel is building a franchise around one of its highest-rated series, Wicked Tuna. The cable network has greenlighted a spinoff series, Wicked Tuna: North vs. South (working title). Produced by Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios, which is behind the original series, the spinoff will begin filming off the coast of the Outer Banks in North Carolina this winter and will premiere in the U.S. and globally this summer. Additionally Nat Geo has set a premiere date for Season 3 of Wicked Tuna, which will unspool on February 16 on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Mundo, and premiering on the National Geographic Channel internationally in March. Season 2 of Wicked Tuna averaged a 0.6 in adults 25-54, up +23% from Season 1, and 976,000 Total Viewers.
The original Wicked Tuna follows the cutthroat, high-stakes business of bluefin tuna fishing in Gloucester, Mass. Although bluefin season came to an end in Gloucester on December 31, it’s just about to get started in the Outer Banks. The weather is much more unpredictable in the Outer Banks during its January through March bluefin season, and the seas can be extremely rough. But if the captains can reach this “new frontier” and reel in some “monstah” fish before the government catch quota is reached (the quota was reached in mid-February last year), the winter months could potentially yield a greater catch than in Gloucester. “Wicked Tuna is one of our strongest franchises, and taking our tuna fishermen down South allows us to explore a new region of America and new waters in the Atlantic,” says Nat Geo president Howard T. Owens. “We are taking the best New England fishermen from Gloucester to the Outer Banks to see how they fare against good old Southern boys who fish the old fashioned way off the beautiful shores of this epic country.” The spinoff series cast includes Wicked Tuna fan favorite Captain Dave Marciano of the fishing vessel Hard Merchandise and season three newcomer Captain TJ Ott of the Hot Tuna, the former mentor of Season 2 winner, Tyler McLaughlin, captain of the Pin Wheel, who returned to his former “bucket scrubber” in his place. Marciano and Ott will battle it out against seasoned local North Carolina bluefin fishermen in the hopes of landing a big payday.
“The captains’ passion and commitment is what has made Wicked Tuna so compelling and what has resonated with viewers these last two seasons,” said Piligian, who exec produces with Mike Nichols. “As we head into season three, we could not be happier to be working with NatGeo to bring more attention to this fascinating industry as the crews head south for the next, even more intense phase of their catch.”
In addition to offering an inside look at one of America’s oldest industries, Wicked Tuna and Wicked Tuna: North vs. South also shed light on important issues surrounding the fate of the bluefin tuna. captains adhere to U.S. regulations that determine size limits and quotas for the season.
In other Nat Geo announcements, Nat Geo Wild unveiled this morning a new Cesar Milan series, Cesar 911, which will premiere on March 7. In it, the dog trainer is called in to help with unruly pets.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.