Animal Planet Analysis

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Animal Planet is capitalizing on their success with edgier fare by scheduling more danger-driven series, featuring unpredictable animals (RIVER MONSTERS, GATOR BOYS). As the network tiptoes around the literal meaning of its name, new themes have begun to appear. Nature has stepped in as a character, creating an animal presence rather than a physical animal. Shows like FINDING BIGFOOT may never see an actual animal, but the setting creates creature-like drama that, based on the strong ratings this show brings, still resonates with viewers.

Monday and Wednesday primetime schedules mostly offer original series repeats. RIVER MONSTERS: UNHOOKED and GATOR BOYS: XTRA BITES give fans of these shows new variations of previously aired footage.

Nature themed documentaries and specials premiere early in the week on Tuesdays. Thursday nights have recently been dedicated to danger and law themed series. NORTH WOODS LAW was a new addition to the lineup in 2012 and is continuing into 2013.

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are go-to nights for original series premieres. Fridays tend to offer a danger/mystery theme (FATAL ATTRACTIONS, MONSTERS INSIDE ME). Saturdays are historically the night for pet programming. The popularity of shows like TOO CUTE! and PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES prove that there is still an audience wanting to see cute pets with heartfelt stories.

Lately Sunday nights have been used for the slew of original programming that explores the wilder, untamed animal themes. FINDING BIGFOOT and GATOR BOYS are big hitters on Sunday nights, and the network continues to try out new series alongside their more popular shows.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / January 2013 vs. January 2012 (% Change)





Monday 8-11pm





Tuesday 8-11pm





Wednesday 8-11pm





Thursday 8-11pm





Friday 8-11pm





Saturday 8-11pm





Sunday 8-11pm





MTWTFSS 8-11pm





Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

According to Animal Planet, January 2013 was its most watched month in 10 years. There was an abundance of original series premieres this month. Several continuing series along with at least 6 season premieres of new and returning shows, moved ratings on a slight annual upswing, starting the year off on a positive note. Overall, January ratings jumped significantly from December, and saw monthly gains on all but one night.

The beginning of the workweek continues to offer a mixed bag of series repeats and specials. Original series variations are slotted into the schedule on Mondays – Wednesdays. Popular show variations such as GATOR BOYS: XTRA BITES and FINDING BIGFOOT: FURTHER fill in the primetime lineup that would otherwise air episode repeats. Ratings on Mondays and Wednesdays stayed on the lower end of the scale. Monthly gains were strong across the board, but most demos showed annual loss.

Tuesday nights are when viewers can expect to find nature-themed specials, and January stayed on this track. The new six-part wildlife series WILD DEEP premiered on the 22nd and received strong ratings. Along with the special GREAT BARRIER REEF on the 15th, Tuesdays saw triple digit monthly gains among women and annual gains were strong as well.

The recently appointed law-themed Thursdays kept on track and NORTH WOODS LAW made a strong presence in January. The season 2 premiere of this show made a killing and was the second highest rated telecast among households. Thanks to the popularity of this new show, Thursday nights saw double-digit gains both monthly and annually, and was the only weeknight that experienced such positive growth.

Ratings drop a bit on Fridays when the mystery/drama themed nights lose a chunk of viewers. New episodes of INFESTED! continued throughout the month, and was joined by FATAL ATTRACTIONS halfway through. The latter of these two shows drew mid-range ratings, but INFESTED! has some catching up to do. Despite the low numbers, Fridays still saw slight monthly and annual gains.

TOO CUTE! took a hiatus from new episodes in January, but will return in February. On Saturdays this month, season 4 of PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES teamed up with season 6 of PIT BOSS, which premiered on the 5th. The feel-good stories centered around dogs and people in need, keep PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES one of Animal Planet’s top rated shows. The loss of new TOO CUTE! episodes seemed to bring Saturday numbers down a bit, and this night saw slight monthly and annual loss.

The best ratings came to Animal Planet on Sunday nights. Every single primetime timeslot aired a brand new original series episode (except for one – 8PM on the 6th aired GATOR BOYS: XTRA BITES, which still drew a strong audience). Wildlife and nature themes set the stage for some very big rated shows this month. New series WILD WEST ALASKA premiered on the 13th to a strong audience. Season 3 of FINDING BIGFOOT continued to receive outstanding ratings, and the season 3 of GATOR BOYS premiered on the 6th. These three shows teamed up and made the 27th one of the most-watched nights in the network’s history. Sundays received monthly and annual gains in all demos except women 18-49, which remained flat from last year.

Next month’s analysis will discuss the success of PUPPY BOWL IX. Premiere episodes of original programs will continue during the winter 2013 schedule.