Animal Planet is capitalizing on their success with edgier fare by scheduling more danger-driven series, featuring more unpredictable animals (RIVER MONSTERS, GATOR BOYS, NORTH WOODS LAW).
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is a 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. Mondays and Wednesdays have been featuring rural America as the setting for several recent series, including HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN’, CALL OF THE WILDMAN, and MUD LOVIN REDNECKS. Tuesdays have gone fishing, airing the popular new series TANKED and other sea-related series. Specials and various original series finish out the week on Thursdays and Fridays. The end of the week is also when the network will try out new themes like medical mysteries (MONSTERS INSIDE ME).
Saturdays are historically the night for pet programming, usually revolving around cats and dogs. Lately the network has been creeping slowly away from furry pets and embracing aquatic pets instead. MY CAT FROM HELL has been keeping those kitty-loving viewers happy, but recently TANKED has become a regular face on Saturdays (along with its aforementioned Tuesday night airings).
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.
DECEMBER 2012 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / December 2012 vs. December 2011 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
Animal Planet has continued on a path of developing original programming all year. Pet programming continues to do well. TOO CUTE! (premiered sporadically in 2011, regular seasons started in Feb. 2012) has been among the top rated shows proving that audiences still go to Animal Planet for furry pets.
The final month of 2012 finished the year on a strong note for Animal Planet. Ratings were up both monthly and yearly, with only a few annual exceptions mid-week. TOO CUTE! and FINDING BIGFOOT were the most popular programs this month and took the most slots among the Top 20 individual telecasts. TOO CUTE! held 6 slots while FINDING BIGFOOT held 5.
Monday’s series repeats drew below average ratings but resulted in slightly stronger numbers than November. Yearly differences were very scattered with some of the younger age demos showing a negative change, but the opposite being true of 25-54 demos. The typically male-skewed night saw a 55% jump among men 25-54 from December 2011, and not surprisingly women 18-49 dropped down by 13%. Each week this month (except for one) aired male-skewed programming (adventure-themed FINDING BIGFOOT and RATTLESNAKE REPUBLIC). The night’s average numbers were not saved in the female demos by the one lone week that aired AMERICAS CUTEST DOG and TOO CUTE! (both of which typically skew female).
Tuesdays and Wednesdays continued with below average ratings. However, consistent scheduling on both nights kept ratings on an upswing from November. Nature themed Tuesdays and aquatic-creature themed Wednesdays drew smaller audiences when compared to 2011 (despite a similar schedule).
The end of the workweek brought slightly stronger audiences. Thursday night ratings started an upward trend in viewers, which resulted in slight monthly increases, but was down from December 2011. Mysteries and creepy crawlies on Friday nights attracted slightly more viewers and numbers went up across the board in all age demos.
Reliable pet programming on Saturday nights didn’t disappoint and brought average ratings. The night showed positive changes across the board in all demos both monthly and annually. TOO CUTE! has established itself as a strong series for Animal Planet and drew some of the best ratings this month. Along with this series, special episodes of AMERICAS CUTEST DOG/CAT consistently draw strong audiences, and this month was the top average program for the network.
FINDING BIGFOOT remains a big hitter for Animal Planet. This series was, on average, the third best rated program for the network this month. The mystery-adventure themed show follows the network’s tagline of “Surprisingly Human”, focusing on the people hunting an unknown creature. This standout receives strong ratings alongside other programs that focus more on household pets (TOO CUTE!, PITBULLS AND PAROLEES and AMERICAS CUTEST DOG). Men 25-54 draw the best on this night. Overall the night remained about the same as last month but showed big yearly increases.
2012 ended on a positive note thanks to some popular original programming, a strategy the network has found success with. The New Year should find the network continuing on this upswing thanks to new seasons of established series and specials. We may not see too many drastic changes in the upcoming year, but audiences can be sure the network will continue to offer unique programming that is always "Surprisingly Human".