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 & 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.
2013 Upfront news revealed the network is realizing its strongest series and renewing them, while latching onto popular themes as it green lights new originals.
New series include
Adventure themed: ICE COLD GOLD, ALASKA BUSH FAMILY, CATCH AND RELEASE, POLAR BEAR CROSSING, UNDERWORLD.
Animal themed: ANIMAL BFF'S, CLIPPED!, MY TINY TERROR.
Fish themed: EEL OF FORTUNE, TOP HOOKER
Other: TREEHOUSE MASTERS (similar to TANKED - treehouse builders)
MARCH 2013 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live + Same Day Primetime Ratings Comparison / March 2013 vs. March 2012 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
March 2013 at Animal Planet kept the network on a steady annual upswing. This year is starting off on a positive note, and more than one article in the past month has used the phrase “best year ever”. With Q1 just at an end, the network seems to be on a very positive track so far.
Monday night blocks of FINDING BIGFOOT encores were matched up with GATOR BOYS in February. This month, GATOR BOYS was replaced with new series CATFISHIN KINGS. This new show brought low numbers and the third and final episode was moved out of primetime to 7pm on its final night. Mondays showed a significant monthly loss and CATFISHIN KINGS has not been renewed for more episodes yet.
Nature-themed blocks on Tuesday nights did much better this month since the low-rated WILD DEEP left the schedule. Blocks of VIKING WILDERNESS, FROZEN PLANET, and WILD WEST ALASKA all brought strong numbers to the network, and this night gained both monthly and annually.
A schedule change on Wednesdays this month filled up primetime with encore episodes of NORTH WOODS LAW and RIVER MONSTERS. These shows both draw strong male audiences and this night jumped up 25% among men 18-49 over last month. The adventure-themed evening did not hit well with the female demo, which dropped by 14% when the schedule lost all GATOR BOYS encores (a show that rates well among women).
Law-themed Thursdays in March continued with new episodes of NORTH WOODS LAW and added newcomer BATTLEGROUND: RHINO WARS to the lineup. The numbers stayed flat with last month, but showed solid annual gains.
With the exception of a couple MY CAT FROM HELL episodes tossed into Friday night primetime, this night was otherwise chock full of the Vegas fish tank builders. Every Friday in March (except on the 15th) aired blocks of TANKED and TANKED: UNFILTERED. The third season of TANKED continued on the 22nd with new episodes after being on hiatus since last Fall. This show hits well among both men and women and the night showed gains monthly and annually. The TANKED premiere on the 22nd was the number one highest rated individual telecast for the month among both men and women 18-49.
Saturdays in March suffered big time due to the loss of PITBULLS & PAROLEES from the schedule. Once that show ended its 4th season in February, it was replaced with encore episodes of MY CAT FROM HELL. PIT BOSS is losing popularity and TOO CUTE! wasn’t enough to keep the Saturday night numbers up. Double-digit losses were experienced both monthly and annually.
Adventure night Sundays were the highest rated nights of the week. Premiere episodes of WILD WEST ALASKA, GATOR BOYS, and FINDING BIGFOOT were among the top rated individual telecasts among both men and women 18-49. GATOR BOYS is especially gaining popularity among women of this age demo, and gained by 35% over last month.
The success of Sunday nights is proving that the network’s move toward a wilder “surprisingly human” theme is working. Recent upfront news reveals that Animal Planet is realizing this success and moving forward with it in a big way. In April, the network’s best-performing series ever, RIVER MONSTERS returns for a fifth season on the 7th. Brand new series ICE COLD GOLD (premiering on the 21st) will follow a group of miners prospecting for gold in undiscovered areas of Greenland. Other premieres in April will include MY CAT FROM HELL, SWAMP’D, and SWAMP WARS.