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 will begin 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. 2 nominations, 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (2015):
- Xploration DIY Sci, also called DIY Sci, (September 10, 2016-present) is 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 once hosted by Joe Penna, better known as YouTube user MysteryGuitarMan, while the new host is 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 its is focused toward female tween and teens.
Although intended for distribution to Fox stations, the block experiences similar carriage issues as Weekend Marketplace (which Fox continues to offer to affiliates that decline carriage of Xploration Station) and Fox's predecessor children's program blocks. In markets where a Fox affiliate declined the block to purchase E/I programming via syndication (or in markets served by a Fox station owned and/or operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group where the block is not contracted to currently be carried), the block is carried instead on a CW or MyNetworkTV affiliate, or an independent station – even if (due to existing program distribution contracts) it already carries E/I-compliant programming that meets the full three-hour requirement, also, the third hour of the block is only carried by selected stations around the country, but most stations continues to carry the first two hours of the block.
Animal Science was nominated in 2014 for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Series.
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- Amanda Kondolojy (December 18, 2013). "Steve Rotfield Clears New Science and Technology Two Hour E/I Block With FOX Station Group". TV by the Numbers. Zap2It (Tribune Digital Ventures. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "WVU's Calandrelli to Host, Co-Produce TV Show on Fox". West Virginia University. July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
- Kelly Gifford (September 13, 2014). "Emily Calandrelli's new frontier". The Boston Globe. Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
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- Michael Schneider (November 23, 2008). "Longform ads replace kid fare on Fox". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
- "Fox O&Os Renew 'Xploration Station'". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media. January 20, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Paige Albiniak (March 17, 2015). "Sinclair to Partner With SRP for 'Xploration Station' Starting Fall 2016". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Brzoznowski, Kristin (February 24, 2016). "Fox's Syndicated Science Block Xploration Station to Go Global". TV Real. WSN, Inc. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- Dickens, Andrew (February 25, 2016). "Science shows board Boat Rocker". C21 Media. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- "Steve Rotfeld Productions Expands 'Xploration Station' Weekend TV Block to 3 hours for 2016-17" (Press release). Philadelphia: Steve Rotfeld Productions. PRWEB. August 31, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- Todd Longwell (July 30, 2014). "YouTube star Joe Penna boards Fox science show". Realscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
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- "MysteryGuitarMan is the latest YouTube star to get his own TV show". The Daily Dot. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- Alessi, Sara (September 9, 2016). "Nat Geo Kids' Weird But True! Lands TV & Radio Shows". TV Kids. World Screen. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
- "2014-2015 Xploration Animal Science - Season I- Press-Program Information Kit — Extreme Reach Syndication" (PDF). Pathfire.com. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "Xploration Station - Steve Rotfeld Productions". Steve Rotfeld Productions. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- "Mayim Bialik And Teen Celebrity Supporters Announce FabLab, The First Science Television Series Aimed At 'Tween And Teen Girls, From The Producers Of The Teen Choice Awards" (Press release). LOS ANGELES. PRNewswire. March 3, 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Montco TV producers up for daytime Emmys". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia Media Network. June 20, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- "Daytime Emmy Awards 2014: Complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. May 1, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.