Animal Planet is capitalizing on their success with edgier fare by scheduling more danger-driven series, featuring predators both real (RIVER MONSTERS, YOUR WORST ANIMAL NIGHTMARES) and imagined (THE HAUNTED.)
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is another strategy that has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. Animal Planet will program series blocks as stunts on virtually any night of the week, as series are continually tested in different scheduling configurations.
Most weeknights programming leans toward the wild or raw side of animal life. Thursdays is the home for new series (HILLBILLY HAND FISHIN', TANKED,) with specials and mini-series having been relocated to Tuesday.
Saturday is the only full night to regularly feature domestic programming, usually revolving around dogs, although cat-oriented series have recently made their presence felt. Sunday, which used to feature more of a mixed bag, now seems to be firming up with more regularly scheduled programming and specials that explore the wilder, untamed animal themes.
Due to their continuous development cycle, APL is now launching new series and new seasons of returning series throughout the year.
DECEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2011 vs. December 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
December's modest growth was driven by Men, drawn in large part by new series CALL OF THE WILDMAN and a generous helping of the off-Discovery mini-series PLANET EARTH. 16 of the Top 20 individual telecasts in December were from those two titles. PLANET EARTH was slotted the final week of the survey, totaling 25% of Prime for the survey. The return of so much older-skewing Natural History led to a 6% increase in Median Age over December 2010. Men demos and Median Age were also up modestly over November.
Following three months in a row where every night of the week was overhauled, only Monday saw significant schedule shifts from the previous month. PITBULLS & PAROLEES repeats from Saturday replaced FATAL ATTRACTIONS at 9pm and 10pm. While a block of PLANET EARTH earned top ratings honors for the night, the night was down sharply overall from last year - PITBULLS & PAROLEES, the #2 series in November finished out of the Top 20 in December. Younger women grew sharply from last month.
Tuesday featured three blocks of PLANET EARTH in December, leading to slight growth in Men demos over 2010. The night as a whole grew 20%+ in Median Age for the fourth month in a row. Men demos were up sharply over last month.
A PLANET EARTH block was the top draw Wednesday, joined by a run of ALASKA WILDLIFE TROOPERS to spur strong M18-49 growth over last year and last month Compared to last year, RIVER MONSTERS was down modestly for younger demos but sharply for A25-54. In addition to younger men, all other demos were up over November.
Thursday enjoyed the strongest across-the-board growth of any night in December, driven by the return of FINDING BIGFOOT at 8pm. At 9pm, repeats of the previous Sunday's CALL OF THE WILDMAN grew solidly for the rest of the evening. Growth was further bolstered by the block of PLANET EARTH, which earned top honors the final week of the survey. Male demos were up significantly over last month.
FATAL ATTRACTIONS and INFESTED, replacing 10pm MY EXTREME ANIMAL PHOBIA, dominated Fridays, leading to strong W18-49 growth over last year. Younger men were up modestly over last month, with all other demos essentially flat with November.
Saturday featured the return of TOO CUTE, replacing 8pm PITBULLS & PAROLEES, with the latter series remaining at 10pm. Women were down sharply from a similar appeal lineup in 2010, as PITBULLS & PAROLEES has lost 14% of its RA18-49 and 26% of its RA25-54 from December 2010. Demos were down sharply from November.
Sunday's new series CALL OF THE WILDMAN and NED BRUHA: SKUNK WHISPERER led to modest growth over December 2010, when FATAL ATTRACTION and I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE filled much of the lineup. The lineup grew from 8pm throughout the evening, and was the only night to decline in Median Age from 2010, albeit only 2%.
If it's animals, it's a safe bet that a stop on your program pitch tour must include Animal Planet. Then again, if you have an idea that might be adaptable to animals (think MEERKAT MANOR), then bring it here, too. And the more reality, the better.
The old Animal Planet did not like to dwell on animal deaths. The new Animal Planet, with a new logo, a new tag line and a new mantra likes wilder, more dangerous critters. Before, it was everything up to the death...now, we're seeing killing and maiming -- animals vs. animals and animals vs. man. Titles with words like killer, ferocious, venomous and raw are finding more and more airtime. Not natural history so much as extreme wild life. It goes by many mantras by the network "programming with teeth," "adrenaline-charged," etc. The programs that seem to resonate the best are those that explore the often dangerous intersection of man and beast. Originals are the bulk of their programming, and they're open to pitches....usually more accessible than most nets.
Recently, Animal Planet has taken to ordering 3x60 mini-series such as WORLD'S DEADLIEST TOWNS and INFESTED, possibly as a low-risk tactic to test new concepts without committing to a "full" series.
They're tough to find as most inventory has been picked clean, but The Planet is always looking for "quality acquisitions."