Illustration via Max Fleishman

Streaming science: Netflix’s new shows should have cable TV worried

Step aside, Discovery and NatGeo.


Published Sep 5, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 2:27 am CDT


It’s been an interesting week for Netflix news. At least, if you’re into thought-provoking topics, intellectual discourse and science. According to Variety, a new series is set to hit the streaming service early next year: Bill Nye Saves the World.

The famous Science Guy is finally returning to TV, and this time he’ll be hosting a talk show that “will explore science and its impact on politics, society and pop culture.”

Why is this noteworthy? Aside from the simple fact that Mr. Nye is awesome and is deserving of his own platform, it looks like Netflix is doubling down on the talk show format they started experimenting with on Chelsea. Also, it further shows how Netflix is a growing force that cable providers need to reckon with. But, more on that in a bit …

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After that initial nerdgasm began to dissipate, another piece of exciting news hit the Internet — this one coming straight from Atlanta’s Dragon Con. On Saturday, it was announced that the M7 Build Team from Mythbusters are reassembling for a new original series called The White Rabbit Project. This, too, is coming to Netflix.

The return of Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci is welcome news. While Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage were the faces of the long-running series, the M7 Build Team brought the oddities and personality that really helped make the show successful. With the new series, the three will be busting myths by diving down Internet rabbit holes and exploring the odd topics they find.

And this is why cable television should be worried. The Science Channel, NatGeo and Discovery, just to name a few, have always struggled at bringing in the coveted 18–34-year-old demographic. Mythbusters did help to crack into that audience for Discovery, and with the aid of pop culture tie-ins—the Star Wars and Breaking Bad episodes come to mind—Adam and Jaime helped to keep things relevant, while educating us in the process.

The Science Channel has plans to reboot Mythbusters with new hosts, but we have to wonder if it’ll work. Adam and Jamie worked long and hard to build up their audience. Could two new personalities come in and successfully continue to carry the torch? Let’s remember, without Mulder and Scully, The X-Files didn’t have a chance.

RELATED: ‘Mythbusters’: 10 best confirmed myths

This brings us back to Netflix. With its far reach, the streaming service seems like the perfect place for Bill Nye, Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara to thrive. The blending of television format with Internet sensibilities would work wonders for both shows. And the lack of censors could even help to elevate the programs to an edgy level, previously unseen on basic cable.

And let’s not forget about the viewing habits of that coveted 18–34 demo we referenced above. On either mobile device, tablet, computer or—dare we say—television set, Bill Nye Saves the World and The White Rabbit Project sound like the type of fresh, forward thinking projects that would breed the viral clips necessary for any show to survive in a cord-cutting Millennial-run world.

Now, if only Morgan Freeman was around to provide the voice over …

The White Rabbit Project is set to premiere on Dec. 9 with Bill Nye Saves the World coming in Spring, 2017 on Netflix.

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*First Published: Sep 5, 2016, 9:00 pm CDT