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.
May 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / May 2012 vs. May 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Animal Planet maintained its winning streak for a fifth straight month, driven again by increasing growth for RW18-49. Male viewers were also drawn by the return of TANKED with spin-off TANKED: UNFILTERED on Saturday and new RIVER MONSTERS episodes on Sunday.
Older viewers increased by double-digit percentages each night of the week. Despite this, Median Age was essentially flat with last year. The special MERMAIDS: BODY FOUND tripled APL's average demo delivery for the month, proving there's more to the mythical creatures genre than the Dragons which did so well among APL viewers earlier this season.
Male viewers have come to dominate the Network, with the exception of Saturday's domestic block night, which skewed equally between the sexes this month. RIVER MONSTERS and its spin-offs remain the top APL franchise, accounting for 10 of the Top 20 individual telecasts this survey; TANKED filled 5 of the remaining 10 Top 20 slots.
Every night increased significantly over May 2011. Older demos were up slightly from last month across the board.
RIVER MONSTERS dominated Mondays, as it did last year, leading to significant growth for M25-54 over May 2011. HH and demos were up by 13-27% over last month, when the new season of RIVER MONSTERS debuted.
APL also deployed a couple of RIVER MONSTERS episodes on the final Tuesday leading out of SWAMP PEOPLE. Demo delivery for the block doubled the rest of the month's Tuesday Natural History specials. RM25-54 was up sharply from last month.
Wednesday's combination of TANKED repeats at 8pm, followed by two hours of RIVER MONSTERS episodes and specials led to modest double-digit growth among older men over last year and last month. RIVER MONSTERS, along with related spin-offs and specials filled 25% of Prime in May for APL. The special MAN-EATING SUPER CROC replaced TANKED at 8pm on the final Wednesday in May, and became the second highest- rated special for the month, behind MERMAIDS: BODY FOUND. The night overall was up by modest double-digits for RM25-54 over April 2012.
Thursday's mix of series episodes, specials and mini-series earned strong across-the-board growth over a similar mix last year, again spurred by a block of RIVER MONSTERS. Delivery was essentially flat with April.
On Friday, the new season of WHALE WARS continued its debut, replacing NORTHWOODS LAW from April. WHALE WARS: VIKING SHORES drove Friday to the strongest annual Men demo growth of any weekday in May. The night was flat with last month, as a Memorial Weekend block FINDING BIGFOOT and the ubiquitous RIVER MONSTERS significantly under-delivered the previous three weeks' average.
The premiere of new episodes of TANKED and TANKED UNFILTERED grew consistently at 9pm out of its cat-centric lead-in, but performed best as a 3-hour block on Week 3 of the survey. The TANKED episodes, as well as a CALL OF THE WILDMAN/ RIVER MONSTERS block on Week 4 led Saturday to the strongest percentage Male demo growth of the month, as the night skewed equally male/female in May. W18-49 were up as well from last year's pet-centric lineup, and flat with last month. This is the sixth consecutive month of strong growth for APL on Saturday.
On Sunday the return of RIVER MONSTERS and the premiere of MERMAIDS: BODY FOUND gave APL its top series and special offerings for May. Men demos were up slightly from last month and last year, but Women were up in the 30-40% range overa similar lineup from last year, spurred by the powerhouse MERMAIDS special.