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Animal Planet Analysis - November 2009



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 now occupy only one Prime hour. This shift in strategy is leading to a continued shedding of older viewers: The Network's annual declines in Median Age have continued as the year has progressed, with 3rd Q 2009 dropping 10% from the corresponding period in 2008.

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 HEROES relegated to 10p.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays lean toward the wild or raw side of animal life, and Fridays go more "reality" (UNTAMED & UNCUT; I'M ALIVE).  Thursdays are 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 (albeit repeats at the moment) 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.


Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / November 2009 vs. November 2008  (% Change)

Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample

Animal Planet's year of increasing M18-49 slowed somewhat in November, with growth on only 4 of 7 nights. Men 18-49 and M25-54 ratings have hit a new tier this year, fed by the wild and raw programming direction the Network has adopted.  APL's drive for younger demos continued to slow a bit vs. last year, with the Median Age in Prime down 3% compared to November 2008.

While Men demos increased slightly, declines in W18-49 experienced earlier in the year were reversed this month, with delivery for W18-49 in Prime flat with last year. Overall, male/female delivery has tipped slightly to the distaff side, after virtually even delivery in Prime for most of 2009.

The dichotomy in male/female ratings plays out in series preference by demo in November, with RIVER MONSTERS and LOST TAPES the top series among Men, while CATS 101 and new entry PITBULLS & PAROLEES draw a preponderance of female viewers.

November 2009 reversed  September & October's  return to more regular scheduling, with only 5 weekly Prime hours free from interruption throughout the month. Most likely this decision was driven by the desire to remove Thanksgiving week from the monthly program-averages equation, a practice followed by many Cable Networks.

Monday's growth in M18-49 was helped by the continuation of the WILD RUSSIA Natrual History mini-series from late October during the first two weeks of this survey. PITBULLS & PAROLEES premiered later in the month, with a repeat at 8p leading into a premiere at 9p. The series declined week-to-week in its second full airing MO/9-11p, dropping -21% in HH and -24% for P18-49.

Tuesday was the only regularly scheduled night of the week in November with two hours of WEIRD, TRUE & FREAKY followed by new episodes of LOST TAPES, which takes a "Blair Witch" approach to crypto-zoology. The two series worked well in tandem, with strong demo growth and retention from 8-11p. HH and demos were up significantly over last year, but dropped by similar percentages from the same lineup's premiere last month.

Wednesday's strong demo growth over last year was fueled by a two hour presentation of RIVER MONSTERS on 11/18 whiich more than doubled APL's Prime demo ratings average for Men, and spurred the series as a whole to #1 for that demo. None of November's Wednesday Specials stood out.

Thursday's earlier demo growth this year flattened, as November's Specials lost HH and male demos from last year and last month. No individual titles stood out, and the night as a whole was slightly below November's averages for HH and demos.

Fridays were driven by the 9-11p tandem of I'M ALIVE and a repeat of PITBULLS AND PAROLEES, which generally held or improved upon its 9p I'M ALIVE lead-in for HH and demos.

Regularly-scheduled pet-oriented series continued on Saturday, with runs of DOGS 101 and CATS 101 replacing SUPERFETCH at 8p and 830p, leading into a two-hour block of CATS 101 at 9p. W25-54 are the strongest demo for this night of domestic series.

Sunday's HH and male demos were  down modestly from last year and last month, as blocks of LOST TAPES, WEIRD TRUE & FREAKY and UNTAMED & UNCUT failed to maintain October's momentum on this night.




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, 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."


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."

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 (COWBOYS), pet programming, (SUPERFETCH) and natural history (THE HERD).

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 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. Probably a dying programming breed here.

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 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.