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Planet Promo Breathes Fire

7/22/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

While some still might question the creatures' existence, there was no doubting the interest viewers had in a special that Animal Planet premiered about dragons earlier this year.

Working with talent from around the world, Animal Planet developed Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, combining scientific fact and theory, computer animation and special effects to bring the mythical beasts to life.

The show represented a new step in the network's direction — and a significant financial investment. As such, the program needed to resonate with viewers.

Executives decided supplementary programming, available on demand, would not only boost tune-in for the show but also lift usage for affiliates' VOD vehicles. For those efforts and the record-ratings for Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, Discovery Networks earned a first-place honor in the free category of CTAM's 2005 On Demand Case Study Competition.

To reach those goals, Jennifer Dangar, vice president of new media distribution, and Douglas Dangar, vice president of programming at Discovery on Demand, spearheaded an effort that showcased a 20-minute “making of” special, Dragons: The Magic Behind The Scenes, produced to premiere on demand.

In February and March, four installments of the series Future is Wild also resided on Discovery on Demand's lair, as did three-teaser ads and a trio of clips from the main Dragon show.

The results were Nielsen Media Research-pleasing: the March 20 premiere of Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real lured more than 3 million viewers on average from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. that night, the most in Animal Planet's history.

As for usage, Discovery on Demand received record viewing numbers in February, according to company officials, with Dragons: The Magic Behind The Scenes ranking among the top 10 Discovery on Demand shows in February. The first installment of Future is Wild received the most orders to that point of any show since Discovery on Demand launched last September.

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