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 (THE HAUNTED.)
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 weeknights programming leans toward the wild or raw side of animal life. Thursdays is the home for new series (HILLBILLY HAND FISHIN', TANKED,) with specials and mini-series having been relocated to Tuesday.
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.
NOVEMBER 2011 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2011 vs. November 2010 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
After an October where APL suffered double-digit demo losses, the network returned to last year's delivery levels in November. New series CALL OF THE WILDMAN and NED BRUHA: SKUNK WHISPERER dominated the lineup, earning 9 of the top 20 individual telecasts for the month, and sharply increasing Sunday's delivery of Men demos. With fewer older-skewing Natural History offerings than in October, last month's increase in Prime Median Age reversed in November - down 5% from November 2010.
For the third month in a row, every night of the week was overhauled, with specific animal theme dominating. Overall, APL was up by modest double-digit percentages in all demos compared to last month.
Mondays featured the return of FATAL ATTRACTION, now in its third season. Following 8pm SAVED the last two weeks of the survey, FATAL ATTRACTIONS improved the lead-in across the board. Men demos grew modestly from last month's mixed bag of series episodes and specials.
A single run of ALASKA WILDLIFE TROOPERS stood out among Tuesday's collection of series episodes , mini-series and specials, including perennial favorite BLUE PLANET. The night as a whole drew 17% more M18-49 than last year, but grew 20%+ in Median Age for the third month in a row.
On Wednesday, the return of RIVER MONSTER stemmed the demo decline among Men. HH and younger demos were up in the 20-40% range over October, when I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE dominated the night.
Thursday's mix of Natural History specials and series episodes were bolstered by the return of season 2 of SWAMP WARS, combined with repeats of the previous Sunday's new series CALL OF THE WILDMAN and NED BRUHA: SKUNK WHISPERER. Ratings for the latter two series fell off significantly by the third week of the survey, but a block of TANKED improved the night's average on Thanksgiving. Younger demos were up significantly over last month.
FATAL ATTRACTIONS and MY EXTREME ANIMAL PHOBIA, dominated Fridays, leading to strong growth over last month's TANKED/I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE mix, especially for RM25-54. Overall Prime demo ratings for FATAL ATTRACTIONS are down 20-30% from last year, however, leading to the night's overall annual decline.
Saturday featured the return of PITBULLS & PAROLEES, replacing PUPPIES VS BABIES at 10pm. Men demos nearly doubled from October with Women up by nearly half as well. Numbers were essentially flat with last year, when PITBULLS & PAROLEES first premiered.
Sunday's new series CALL OF THE WILDMAN and NED BRUHA: SKUNK WHISPERER led to sharp growth over November 2010, when FATAL ATTRACTION and I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE filled much of the lineup. The new offerings grew from their debut, especially in A18-49 which increased 23% through the end of the 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 â€“ 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.
Recently, Animal Planet has taken to ordering 3x60 mini-series such as WORLD'S DEADLIEST TOWNS and INFESTED, possibly as a low-risk tactic to test new concepts without committing to a "full" series.
They're tough to find as most inventory has been picked clean, but The Planet is always looking for "quality acquisitions."