1. Their magazine: Almost all magazines have been replaced with websites. Their website dramatically undersells their content. Look at it, really. It's basically like clickhole, but with stories of climate change. The dramatic photography of the magazine is only coming across in about 50% of the photos and the headlines are all clickbait format.
2. Their television presence includes shows like "Drugs, Inc." whose primarily job is to scare old people with re-enactments of drug crimes. Who would pay for that "value"? (I guess people who watch police shows? but what does that saturated market have to do with their brand?)
3. Their youtube stream is a massive quantity of short, low-quality videos. I subscribe and only watch about 1 in 50 of them. Another problem with their videos is so few have narration which I feel is a key feature of travel and wildlife shows.
4. They haven't handled outreach to a younger generation. With all the urban young people (esp. women IMO) who love to travel the world with disposable income (no families, marrying late), NG has no selling relationship with them.
5. The global geopolitical situation is more interesting than ever with worldwide communication, but I don't see NG addressing that. Maybe they are - somewhere? - but their marketing isn't penetrating.
I feel like they could turn it around if they primarily address the youngest generation - perhaps get more involved in the travel and outdoor supplies markets.
Despite all the issues that the magazine and non-profit org may have, they produce quality journalism. You can't say that about the TV channel.
Given its mission to increase and diffuse geographical knowledge, it's remarkable to me that National Geographic doesn't operate a travel-services agency (insurance, tours, guidebooks—that kind of thing). It seems like that should be right in its wheelhouse, and could be profitable enough to fund its research projects, if competently run.
Obviously discoverability, and advertising of these is less than ideal. A lot of it is actually verging on overextending to the brand, like "The Dog Lover's Guide to Travel" just doesn't seem a good brand expansion.
I guess it boils down to the 'competently run' part: if one is going to run a profit-making enterprise, one needs to advertise!
Since we're talking about Murdoch's media assets, this reminds me there's a thriving business in the "news" media based entirely on scaring (mostly) old people with fabricated alarmist stories.
Re #4, National Geographic Kids ebooks are available on the Reading Rainbow platform, and it is very high quality (Thanks mostly in part due to Reading Rainbow's transcription it seems)