JULY 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
Animal Planet is capitalizing on their success with edgier fare by scheduling more danger-driven series, featuring predators both real (RIVER MONSTERS, YOUR WORST ANIMAL NIGHTMARES) and imagined (LOST TAPES.) The older-skewing COPS/PRECINCT series known as HEROES, previously reduced to only one Prime hour, is now on hiatus. This shift in strategy led to a significant decline in Median Age in 2009. 2010 has seen a stabilizing of Median Age, thus far.
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is another strategy that has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside. Mondays used to be all HEROES programs, but now features series, both domestic and wild, with no discernable theme
Most weeknights programming leans toward the wild or raw side of animal life, with Thursdays mainly reserved for specials and documentary mini-series (BLUE PLANET.) Saturday is the only full night to feature domestic programming, usually revolving around dogs. 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.
JULY 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / July 2010 vs. July 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APL's top programs in June ran the gamut of their dominant themes, with dangerous animals, cute dogs, and most of all, humans defined by their relationship with animals filling out July's Top 10.
After three months in a row on top RIVER MONSTERS, which premiered in mid-April, was finally eclipsed by the recently re-launched WHALE WARS as top series in HH and demo delivery . Overall, ratings were down slightly compared with last month and last year.
In July, the network applied a block-scheduling strategy, especially for the first week of the sweep. A block of RIVER MONSTERS on Monday was the top vehicle for HH and demos, MONSTERS INSIDE ME (Wednesday) and THE HAUNTED (Thursday) were the weakest. Single-series blocks played out on other nights as well - in fact,10 out of 28 nights of the July survey featured a single series in Prime, up from six in June.
While Mondays generally suffered modest declines compared to last month and last year, younger males were up, driven by RIVER MONSTERS which ran in 6 of Monday's 12 available hours. LAST AMERICAN COWBOY, which premiered at 10pm last month, was moved to 8pm for two weeks, continuing to underdeliver the night on average.
With two thirds of Tuesday's slots occupied by I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE in July, the night saw a modest jump in HH Rtg, but demos were down across the board from last year and last month
Wednesday's steep annual drops earlier in the year, which abated in 2nd Quarter, returned with a vengeance in July. Other than blocks of I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE and MONSTERS INSIDE ME, the night featured the premiere of CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING at 9 and 10pm on the final night of the survey.The new series essentially equalled APL's prime average for HH and key demos for July. The night was down by modest double-digits from June as well.
Thursday's steep losses in RM18-49 can be attributed to two blocks of MONSTERS INSIDE ME, which delivers more women than men overall.
Friday featured two runs of WHALE WARS leading into RIVER MONSTERS. Not so coincidentally, this night exhibited the month's greatest weeknight demo growth over last year. The night was flat with last month, though.
Saturday saw a second run of PIT BOSS at 9pm, leading into the same series already running at 10pm. Easily the top performer for younger men among all of APL's domestic animal series, PIT BOSS helped Saturday to a whopping 44% bump for RM18-49 compared to July 2009, and the night was up 18% in the demo compared to June.
July continued June's big scheduling stunt featuring the off-Discovery BBC series LIFE, which finished up on Sundays, with the ubiquitous WHALE WARS also offered for multiple runs on this night. Losses were modest across the board comapred to last year and last month.
If it's animals, it's a safe bet that a stop on your program pitch tour must include Animal Planet. Then again, if you have an idea that might be adaptable to animals (think MEERKAT MANOR), then bring it here, too. And the more reality, the better.
The old Animal Planet did not like to dwell on animal deaths. The new Animal Planet, with a new logo, a new tag line and a new mantra likes wilder, more dangerous critters. Before, it was everything up to the death...now, we're seeing killing and maiming -- animals vs. animals and animals vs. man. Titles with words like killer, ferocious, venomous and raw are finding more and more airtime. Not natural history so much as extreme wild life. It goes by many mantras by the network - programming with teeth, adrenaline-charged, etc The programs that seem to resonate the best are those that explore the often dangerous intersection of man and beast. Originals are the bulk of their programming, and they're open to pitches....usually more accessible than most nets.
It's tough to find as most inventory has been picked clean, but The Planet is always looking for "quality acquisitions."
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
With its new branding and new vision firmly in place, Animal Planet is taking on the new season with an ambitious lineup - 24 original series, including 14 returning programs and ten new ones that the Planet would like to brand as "a broad range of content with an entertainment attitude."
"Last year's rebrand was all about transforming Animal Planet into a multi-dimensional entertainment destination that can compete with the best television," said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media. "We've had success in every one of our genres from grand scale docudramas like WHALE WARS and JOCKEYS to our Saturday night pet entertainment to gorgeous natural history. This year's slate builds from there to make us even stronger and more exciting."
The network will delve into dramatic stories (LAST AMERICAN COWBOY), pet programming, (PIT BOSS) and natural history (MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM.)
The network has taken stock of what worked and what didn't in the past year. "When animals attack" has become a genre unto itself, and is pulling in the men for an increasingly male audience skew. These programs are now the building blocks of the mid-week schedule.
The MEERKAT copycats (LEMUR, ORANGUTAN, CHIMPS, even MEERKATS 2) weren't as strong as the animal that spawned them, programming-wise, ratings-wise or buzz-wise.
Saturday's dog programming has been going strong, especially among older women. It seems to have inspired a slew of dog- and cat-related programming, which is now spilling beyond Saturday to find regular timeslots during the week. There's a long development slate about dogs on the horizon. If it's got dogs, Animal Planet is considering it...police dogs, sled dogs, rescue dogs, show dogs, shelter dogs...you name it. Dogs from Alaska, dogs from Minnesota, dogs from New Jersey...there are endless variations here and Animal Planet seems determined to explore them all. And for the most part, they all seem to be resonating with women.
WHALE WARS and RIVER MONSTERS are the biggest successes to come out of 2008/2009, and are among the 14 or so programs renewed for 2009/2010. Both of these programs focused more on the human element than the animal element.
Mixed results have come from celebrities and/or personalities on the sked...but they must be credible, entertaining, authorities in their field. Animal Planet does view itself as "general entertainment," not "animals," so use that as your creative cue. Characters are always important here so if you know a colorful person who's good with animals, we'd still keep them in mind.
Animal Planet continues its rebranding campaign, rolling out the tagline "Surprisingly Human" at the 2010-2011 Upfront Presentation. Among the highlights, Animal Planet announced the launch of several new series, including:
DOLPHIN WARRIORS, LAST CHANCE HIGHWAY, MUST LOVE CATS, TAKING ON TYSON, SKUNK WHISPERER (wt), WORLD'S DEADLIEST TOWNS (wt). Continuing series include DOGS 101/CATS 101, THE HAUNTED, I'M ALIVE, I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE, IT'S ME OR THE DOG, LOST TAPES, MONSTERS INSIDE ME, MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM, PIT BOSS, PIT BOSS AND PAROLEES, RIVER MONSTERS, WHALE WARS. New specials are INTO THE DRAGON'S LAIR, MADAGASCAR, WILD AMAZON, VIKING WILDERNESS.