(Updated as of December 19, 2008)
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:
Top rated regularly scheduled programs used to be dominated by shows from the HEROES STRAND: ANIMAL COPS DETROIT, ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON, ANIMAL PRECINCT, MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE. But the network has been backing off from this older-skewing program, giving prime primetime slots to other programs. The top spots in the rankings go to WHALE WARS; DOGS 101; IT'S ME OR THE DOG; UNTAMED AND UNCUT; ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON.
The best performing specials this October were:
MOUNTAINS OF THE WOLF; NATURAL WORLD; VENOM 911; LOST TAPES
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is a favorite strategy that is employed quite often. The COPS/PRECINCT block, known as HEROES used to be stripped at 10pm, and blocked out on Mondays, but the net is backing away from this long-lived and older skewing strand, putting other programming in its coveted 10PM time slot. Mondays are still mostly HEROES programs, but other programs have been pre-empting it. Tuesdays lean toward the wild or raw side of animal life, and Fridays go more "reality" (MEERKAT MANOR, LEMUR KINGDOM, and this month WHALE WARS). Saturdays feature programming that revolves around dogs. Thursdays and Sundays used to be programmed differently every week, with high-profile specials or repurposed weekday programming, but Sundays are firming up with more regularly scheduled programming and specials that explore the wilder, untamed animal themes.
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2008
The network is playing down the 10PM HEROES strand, switching it to 9PM on Wednesdays, eliminating from Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and occasionally pre-empting it on Mondays at 9 and 10. On Wednesdays THE GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES are over and ANIMAL WITNESS and AFTER THE ATTACK take its place. WHALE WARS moves into Fridays, and UNTAMED AND UNCUT replace HEROES at 10. WHALE WARS also becomes a permanent 10PM fixture on Sundays.
** October 30 @ 9 & 9:30PM: HOWL-O-WEEN specials: LOST TAPE
** November 7 @ 9PM: WHALE WARS (new series)
** November 9 @ 7PM: ORANGUTAN INSLAND (season 2 premiere)
DECEMBER AND BEYOND:
** December 6 @8PM: CATS 101
** December 8 - 12 @ 10PM: HEROES WEEK
**January 3 @ 8PM: UNDERDOG TO WONDERDOG
** January 6 @ 10PM: LOST TAPES
** February 6 @ 9PM: JOCKEYS
** December specials include DANCING WITH DOGS (December 6th), HEROES WEEK (Dec 8-12), 2008, THE YEAR IN ANIMALS (December 13th), ANIMAL GLADIATORS (December 14th).
** January specials include AFRICAN BAMBI; PANDA-MONIUM; BUG-EATING MAN; AKC/EUKANUBA NATIONAL DOG CHAMPIONSHIPS
YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
As we have seen in the past few months, Animal Planet's bottom-line numbers are virtually unchanged vs. last year. Weekday programming, particularly Monday through Wednesday, has tumbled vs. last year, but improvements on the weekend balance it out for a net ratings change of -3% on households, +7% on men 18-49 and no change for women or men 25-54.
With less emphasis on HEROES programming than last year, the weekday numbers are down across the board, and so is the median age. There was one exception, on Tuesday, the night with the "programming with teeth" or "adrenaline pumped programs" or whatever they're called now, median age is down a full -19%, households are down -17% and men 18-49 ratings are up +36%. But this can't really be considered a success story: men 25-54 ratings are flat, women are down, and the night performs below the network average for all demos, even men 18-49.
The network has found some success on Fridays and Saturdays with whales and dogs leading the way. WHALE WARS debuted this month as a definite success. It is the top rated program, and posted the top three telecasts of the month. It brings up Friday night's male audience by over +60% and the female audience by about +15%. Oh, and median age dropped -14%. It doesn't get much better than that!
Saturdays are all about the dogs, and it is working, at least with the female viewers - their ratings are up about +60% vs. last year, with DOGS 101 and IT'S ME OR THE DOG on the line-up. 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, they are considering it.
One step forward, one step back as Animal Planet continues its attempts at forging a path to ratings success.
NOVEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
At last, Animal Planet saw positive ratings growth on all 18-49 and 25-54 demos this month vs. last! The movements were small, but steady, and in the right direction. Adults 18-49 improved ratings by 7%, adults 25-54 were up by 13%. Households were actually down a bit - -3%.
The Planet put out a slew of new programming this month, and fortunately one of them was a hit. A whale of a hit actually, WHALE WATCHERS took the audience by storm and on its second outing it actually delivered the best ratings for the net in five years, according to Animal Planet's press release. The only bad news is that the program is currently just 7 eps, and ended on December 19th. Let's see if its success can be prolonged.
Other programming had mixed results, some good some bad...
On Mondays, the HEROES strand continues to fade. There were no new eps this month, and by the end of November it was being put out to the dogs - IT'S ME OR THE DOG and DOGS 101 started airing in its place. ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON did grow 20% among households and women, but lost significant male viewers, and the other two Monday night HEROES programs (MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE, ANIMAL PLANET HEROES PHOENIX) showed share and / or ratings fall-off by double digits.
Tuesday night took the worst hit of the week this November, as audiences plummeted twenty to thirty percent. Steepest declines were among key male demos. Tuesday is the night with the young male skewing animal realism-type programming. There were new episodes of WEIRD, TRUE AND FREAKY and LIVING WITH THE WOLFMAN each week, but the declines were precipitous. WEIRD TRUE AND FREAKY dropped by -30% or more across the board vs. last month. And so one of the best-performing nights is now the second worst this month.
The unfortunate prize of worst night belongs to Wednesday. Women tuned out the most vs. last month, with an approximate 20% drop in ratings. AFTER THE ATTACK was not a good replacement for GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES, even though it sounds like a natural.
Thursday's mix of repeat programming and specials was successful this month, as every demo showed ratings growth - between +8% and +27%. Most successful were the specials, specifically BLUE PLANET: SEAS OF LIFE and LOST TAPES.
As discussed above, Friday was all about WHALE WARS. The program built audience in the second week and again in the third, topping all kinds of records. The fourth week showed some drop-off, but it was Black Friday, so that's understandable. At the end of the month, Fridays showed over 100% growth among men and 33% growth among women. It was the best-rated night of the week for men.
And Saturday was the best rated for households and women. In fact, Saturday is the only night with a decided female skew. The dog programming continued to work like a charm, increasing demo audiences by +15% vs. October.
Rounding out the roller-coaster month, Sunday lost some households and women 18-49, gained some men 25-54 and held even on young men and older women. New episodes of UNTAMED AND UNCUT at 9 and repeats of WHALE WARS at 10 were the best performers for the night.
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