Xploration Station is an American syndicated programming block that is programmed by Steve Rotfeld Productions, operated by Fox, and debuted on September 13, 2014. It airs weekends (typically on Saturday mornings), primarily on Fox-affiliated stations. Aimed towards teenagers, the block consists of four half-hour shows focusing on the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. All of the programs in the two-hour block are produced to meet federally mandated educational programming guidelines (stations carrying the block continue to provide E/I-compliant programs acquired from the syndication market to comply with the full three-hour requirement defined by the Federal Communications Commission for television stations to devote to educational programming each week).
|Network||Syndicated (primarily Fox stations)|
|Launched||September 13, 2014|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Format||E/I programming block|
|Running time||2 hours (2014-2016)
3 hours (2016-)
On December 17, 2013, Steve Rotfeld Productions announced that it would launch a two-hour syndicated block of live-action educational programs under the working title Xploration Nation, with Fox Television Stations and Tribune Broadcasting initially set to carry the block across their respective Fox owned-and-operated and affiliated stations. The block, aimed towards teenagers between 13 and 16 years of age, features programs focused on the STEM fields – such as marine biology, astronomy and animal science. Production on one of the four shows, Xploration Outer Space, began in April 2014. The block, by then renamed Xploration Station, premiered on September 13, 2014.
On Fox owned-and-operated stations, Xploration Station replaced Weekend Marketplace, a two-hour block of infomercials first introduced in January 2009 following the discontinuation of 4Kids TV due to conflicts between Fox and the block's programmer 4Kids Entertainment. Several of the Fox stations that initially picked up the block had previously declined to carry the network's former children's programming blocks (Fox Kids, FoxBox and 4Kids TV) and Weekend Marketplace – particularly, those owned by the core Fox and Tribune groups that affiliated with the network in the mid-1990s under New World Communications ownership.
On January 20, 2015, Fox Television Stations renewed the block for the group's Fox owned-and-operated stations through 2017.
One of the more notable holdouts for Xploration Station in its first two seasons was Fox's largest affiliate group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has several already existing contracts with other E/I production companies to give them compliant programming to meet the standards throughout a chain which consists of numerous network affiliates; Sinclair's Fox stations instead continue to carry Weekend Marketplace (the sole exception is WLUK-TV in Green Bay, which carries Xploration Station through an agreement struck prior to the December 2014 closure of Sinclair's purchase of the station and CW-affiliated sister WCWF from LIN Media). This was rectified in September 2016, when Sinclair began to carry Xploration Station on their Fox stations and two other Sinclair stations associated with a netlet under a five-year agreement with Steve Rotfeld Productions.
The block was made available international with the pick up of non-US distribution by Boat Rocker Rights in February 2016. With the third season starting September 10, 2016, Xploration Station expanded from 2 to 3 hours while only returning 3 shows and adding 3 new shows.
- Xploration Awesome Planet (September 13, 2014–present): Hosted by Philippe Cousteau, Jr., this series features a detailed look at earth science and geology.
- Xploration DIY Sci, also called DIY Sci, (September 10, 2016–present): A pop-science series featuring the host, Steve Spangler, creating experiments using everyday items.
- Xploration Earth 2050 (September 13, 2014–present): This series covers emerging technology. The first season of the series was hosted by Joe Penna, better known as YouTube user MysteryGuitarMan, while Season 2, 3 and 4 is Hosted by Chuck Pell, the inventor, designer, futurist, and tech entrepreneur.
- Xploration: Nature Knows Best (September 10, 2016–present): Marine biologist Danni Washington hosts this show about nature based technological advancements.
- Xploration Outer Space (September 13, 2014–present): This series focuses on various aspects of the space industry, including technology, the prospects of a manned mission to Mars, and the growing space tourism industry. The program is hosted and produced by Emily Calandrelli, who was scouted by Steve Rotfeld from her YouTube productions for West Virginia University's engineering college.
- Weird But True (September 10, 2016–present): A co-production of Rotfeld Production and National Geographic Kids and is based on the magazine's most popular fun-facts feature and book series
- Xploration Animal Science (formerly Animal Science) (September 13, 2014-2016) – This program was originally broadcast in syndication in 2012, and was retooled for broadcast as part of Xploration Station.
- FabLab, became part of the Xploration Station programming block in early 2016 as an apparent mid-season replacement for Animal Science. The show has 4 hosts, 3 girls as it is focused toward female tween and teens.
Animal Science was nominated in 2014 for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Series.
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