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 (FINDING BIGFOOT.)
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.Monday, Wednesday and Thursday house 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.
FEBRUARY 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / February 2012 vs. February 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Animal Planet starts 2012 with two months of strong increases over the same period last year. While January's significant growth was driven by Men, up nearly 1/3 over 2011, February's was spurred by W18-49 as well. Younger Women were drawn by Saturday's domestic pet series, as well as FINDING BIGFOOT and a Tuesday block of PLANET EARTH episodes. The Tuesday Blue Chip Natural History specials dominated the Top Ten program list this month, along with the domestic pet fare. Households and demos were down slightly from last month across the board. Median Age dropped 6% from last year, and 4% from January.
Following a quiet December, in terms of lineup shifts, January saw four night's schedules overhauled, followed by major changes on two nights in February. Both Wednesday and Thursday dropped from January's delivery, and both experienced HH and demo losses from 2011 - details below.
Various iterations of FINDING BIGFOOT continued to improve Mondays over 2011, when I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE dominated the night. Female demos were down modestly from last month, but FINDING BIGFOOT was APL's top Weeknight series for W18-49, and two of the specials were among the Top 3 individual telecasts for that demo in February.
Tuesday continued to feature Natural History specials, with perennial viewer favorite PLANET EARTH scoring particularly well with M18-49, as did the return of a more recent viewer favorite, MADAGASCAR.
Wednesday's rural wildlife block was down across the board by modest double digit percentages from last month's RIVER MONSTERS/ PLANET EARTH offering. Men demos were up from last year, drawn by the character-driven rural Americana, even as Female viewership dropped from 2011's I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE/ ANIMAL NIGHTMARES lineup.
Thursday's rural wildlife series from January were replaced by a block of INFESTED, expanding from Friday night. This led to significant monthly drops in M18-49, and all older demos. Women were up compared to last year's Specials-driven Thursday, as all demos grew from 8-11pm through the three nightly episodes.
Friday's lineup continued with INFESTED 8-10pm and CONFESSIONS ANIMAL HOARDING, which was replaced by I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE at 10pm in Weeks 3 and 4. Delivery was down modestly compared to last year and last month.
Saturdays mix of domestic series and specials did especially well among W18-49 and older demos. New episodes of PIT BOSS, PITBULLS AND PAROLEES, TOO CUTE and the special AMERICA'S CUTEST DOGCAT 10 performed well above prime average, with younger women nearly doubling from last year's similar-appeal lineup. This continues strong growth in that demo fro the third month in a row.
As it did last month, Sunday's 10pm FINDING BIGFOOT, APL's #1 series, continued to add 60-80% to its 9PM lead-in, which was usually new series GATOR BOYS. This was the strongest night overall for growth for RA25-54, helped by 50% HH growth for the PUPPY BOWL over last year, as APL is one of the few networks to make inroads against the Super Bowl competition in Week 1. HH and demos were down slightly across-the-board from last month's lineup, which featured AMERICAN STUFFERS at 8pm, replaced in February by another run of HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN'.