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 (CALL OF THE WILDMAN, SNAKEMAN OF APPALACHIA,) 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.
JANUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2012 vs. January 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
January's significant growth was driven by Men, up nearly 1/3 over last year, as well as older viewers, whose annual growth increased four-fold over that of December 2011. The return of FINDING BIGFOOT, along with related specials and some blue-chip wildlife specials, accounted for 8 of the Top 10 programs this month. Household and demos were also up by double-digits over December. Women demos up in the 40% range over last month, drawn by the domestic programming on Saturday, as well as Sunday's premieres, especially FINDING BIGFOOT .
Following a quiet December, in terms of lineup shifts, January saw four night's schedules overhauled, with a block of FINDING BIGFOOT driving Monday to huge gains in Men over last year. Replacing December's specials and domestic-oriented offerings, the night grew over 120% for RM25-54, and nearly doubled RM18-49 from last month.
Tuesday continued to feature Natural History specials, although two runs of new series GATOR BOYS graced the 8pm hour the last two weeks of the survey, dipping slightly the second week. Perennial viewer favorite YELLOWSTONE: BATTLE FOR LIFE was the top special on this night, with WILD JAPAN also contributing to the sharp across-the-board annual growth.
Continuing with Monday's block-scheduling strategy, the first two Wednesdays featured RIVER MONSTERS from 8-11pm, with three weeks of PLANET EARTH specials closing out the survey. Young men demos were consistently strong, leading to 25% growth above last year. HH and demos were essentially flat compared with December.
Thursday's rural wildlife series continued, with CALL OF THE WILDMAN now an hour earlier at 8pm, moved from 9-11pm in December. New series SNAKEMAN OF APPALACHIA and AMERICAN STUFFERS enjoyed strong launches 9-11pm, but declined in subsequent weeks. By its third weekly telecast, 9pm SNAKEMAN had dropped 50% in RA18-49 and RA25-54 from its debut. STUFFERS suffered a 40% drop in older adults by the end of the survey, although HH and A18-49 were less affected. Most demos were flat with last month, with Older Women up 19%.
Friday's lineup also changed in January with INFESTED, replacing 8-10pm FATAL ATTRACTIONS, joined by CONFESSIONS ANIMAL HOARDING at 10pm. This was the only night consistently scheduled for all five weeks of the survey. New episodes of INFESTED at 9pm scored consistently above average in all demos leading Friday to strong growth over last month for Women and older demos. Delivery was up modestly over a similar lineup in 2011.
Saturday featured 8pm MY CAT FROM HELL , replacing TOO CUTE, followed by the return of PIT BOSS at 9pm., with PITBULLS & PAROLEES remaining at 10pm. MY CAT FROM HELL was the network's top series for Women demos, leading to modest double-digit growth for lead-out PIT BOSS over last year. While the night as a whole was up modestly for female demos over last year, distaff delivery nearly doubled from December.
Sunday's 10pm FINDING BIGFOOT, APL's #1 series, consistently added 60-80% to its 9PM lead-in, which was usually new series GATOR BOYS. In turn GATOR BOYS consistently improved on its 8pm AMERICAN STUFFERS lead-in in HH and demos, leading to a near doubling of RM18-49 over January 2011 for the night. Younger Women doubled from last months lineup, which featured CALL OF THE WILDMAN, and NED BRUHA, SKUNK WHISPERER.
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 â€“ 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."