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Meerkat Manor Strong for Animal Planet

Animal Planet’s focus on a furry family produced big numbers for the network.

The June 9 debut of Meerkat Manor -- the series following a struggling family of meerkats in the Kalahari -- delivered a 0.9 household rating for each of its half-hour episodes in the 8 p.m. hour that night, attracting more than 1 million viewers per installment, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The launch, which improved the network’s time slot over the prior year by 125%, represented the biggest series debut for the service in three years, according to network officials.

Meerkat Manor -- Animal Planet already ordered a second, 13-episode season of the show, based on a 10-year study by Cambridge University -- garnered 1.4 million cumulative total viewers in primetime and 3.4 million total viewers overall for showings in primetime, late-night and daytime over the past weekend.

The series’ appeal among children was strong, as it pulled a 0.5 rating among kids 2-11 and a total of 158,000 of those watchers, a 67% jump over the previous year’s time-period average.