Animal Planet is capitalizing on their success with edgier fare by scheduling more danger-driven series, featuring predators both real (RIVER MONSTERS, GATOR BOYS) 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 weeknight programming leans toward the wild or raw side of animal life. Rural America has featured prominently as the setting for several recent series, including HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN' , CALL OF THE WILDMAN, SNAKEMAN OF APPALACHIA. Specials and mini-series are still regularly featured on Tuesday, but also fill other nights as series come and go.
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.
APRIL 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / April 2012 vs. April 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Animal Planet maintained its winning streak for a fourth straight month, driven in part by increasing growth for RW18-49. Male viewers were also drawn by Specials on Tuesday and Thursday, as well new series NORTHWOODS LAW on Friday, and the return of TANKED with spin-off TANKED: UNFILTERED on Saturday. Male viewers have come to dominate the Network, with the exception of Saturday's domestic block night. RIVER MONSTERS and its spin-offs remain the top APL franchise, accounting for 9 of the Top 20 individual telecasts this survey; the other two aforementioned properties filled 9 of the remaining 11 Top 20 slots.
Every night besides Wednesday increased significantly over April 2011. Male and younger Female demos were up by modest double-digit percentages from last month across the board.
With its year-round development and launch strategy, Animal Planet reprogrammed all five of its series-driven nights in April. (This after six nights underwenya significant overhaul in March.)
RIVER MONSTERS and GATOR BOYS dominated Mondays, leading to significant growth over April 2011, when I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE filled much of this night. HH and demos were up by 40-50% over last month, when FINDING BIGFOOT, INFESTED and RATTLESNAKE REPUBLIC occupiedmost of Monday.
APL continued its scheduling experiment of expanding Domestic Pet series from Saturday, with a block of MY CAT FROM HELL on one Tuesday, which grew steadily from 8-11pm. Demo delivery for the block was in line with the rest of the month's Tuesday Natural History specials. RW18-49 was up sharply from last month.
RIVER MONSTERS filled nearly 3/4 of Wednesday's time-slots, essentially flat with last year, when the same series combined with I'M ALIVE during the survey. In its first two weeks at 8pm, TANKED grew 55% for RW18-49 and 30% for RW25-54, but dropped 25% for M18-49. The night overall posted April's strongest month-to-month increases, with young men up by 77% over March's line-up, which most prominently featured HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN' and FINDING BIGFOOT.
Thursday's mix of series episodes, specials and mini-series earned strong across-the-board growth over a similar mix last year, spurred by blocks of WILD RUSSIA and BLUE PLANET. Delivery was essentially flat with March.
New male-driven series NORTHWOODS LAW drove Friday to the strongest HH and Men demo growth of the week. After premiering at 9pm in March, the series expanded to both 8pm and 10pm on various Fridays in April. The premiere of WHALE WARS: OPERATION BLUEFIN and WHALE WARS: VIKING SHORES were the top two telecasts for RM18-49 on Friday. HH and all demos other than older women were up by modest double-digits over March.
The premiere of new episodes of TANKED and TANKED UNFILTERED grew consistently at 9pm out of its cat-centric lead-in. All demos were up over April 2011's and March 2012's mix of cat and dog series, especially Men demos. This is the fifth consecutive month of strong growth for APL on Saturday. Median Age declined 11% from last month as well.
On Sunday the return of RIVER MONSTERS gave APL its top offering for April. Demos were up in the 40% range over last month when FINDING BIGFOOT and RATTLESNAKE REPUBLIC dominated the night. The two strongest Sundays of the month featured 3-hour blocks of RIVER MONSTERS programming, generally growing throughout the night.