Animal Planet Strategic Opportunities - May 2009


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." 



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.


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, (FETCH ME A BEER) 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.


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