Animal Planet Strategic Opportunities - December 2008

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STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES

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 and realism, 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 more 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

ORIGINAL:

It's the bulk of their programming, and they're open to pitches....usually more accessible than most nets.

ACQUIRED:

Tough to find as most inventory has been picked clean, but The Planet is always looking for "quality acquisitions." 

PROGRAM SUBMISSION PROCESS:

(http://producers.discovery.com/esub/esub.nsf.)

Go-ahead decisions have been made quarterly. The network welcomes ideas from established vendors, as well as new producers.

Don't overdo it on a first-time pitch that could be, in their words, "shot down in 30-seconds."  A tape is necessary if there is talent involved.

E-mail submission process is a part of it, before or after a meeting.

A one-page submission of the idea is sufficient.

CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:

HEROES in all forms used to work. It held up the 10pm time slot, sometimes the network, as pretty much every telecast was significantly above the network average.  But that was the old Animal Planet. The net is placing less emphasis on the older-skewing HEROES programs and trying out new programming in its 10PM time slots.

"When animals attack" has become a genre unto itself, and is pulling in the men for an increasingly more male audience skew. These programs are now the building blocks of top-rated Sunday night.

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-related programming. 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.

WHALE WARS is the biggest success to come out of 2008, and has already been renewed for 2009. The program focused more on the drama between humans than the drama between animals, and took a few unexpected turns (i.e. hostage situation). Hard as that is to replicate, you can be sure the network will try.

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 themselves 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.

Movie tie-ins seem to work, but that's usually studio generated.   Movies worked better when they were fresh, not necessarily star-filled either, so there's another obvious lead.


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