OCTOBER 2010 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE:
* Bold denotes programming change
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, previously reduced to only one Prime hour, is now on hiatus. This shift in strategy led to a significant decline in Median Age in 2009. 2010 has seen a stabilizing of Median Age, thus far.
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 no discernable theme
Most weeknights programming leans toward the wild or raw side of animal life, with Thursdays 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 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.
OCTOBER 2010 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
Live Primetime Ratings Comparison / October 2010 vs. October 2009 (% Change)
Source: The Nielsen Company's National Television Audience Sample
APL'S annual increases seen in August and September, turned into slight declines in October, with the exception of W18-49. Five of seven nights exhibited double-digit HH and/or demo declines compared to last year. HH and Men demos were essentially flat with September, and Women were up slightly.
All six series driven nights saw schedule changes in October, the second month in a row of significant shifts. This led to wholesale changes in the top program roster from last month.
Monday's RIVER MONSTERS block from September was reduced to one hour this month. October ushered in the return of domestic pets to Monday in the form of 8pm PITBULLS AND PAROLEES, which was followed by 9pm I WAS BITTEN. While down sharply from last month, especially for M18-49, that demo was up by more than 1/3 from last year, when 10pm ANIMAL COPS significantly under-delivered younger men.
September's RIVER MONSTERS was replaced by LOST TAPES 9-11pm on Tuesday, with WEIRD TRUE & FREAKY opening the night at 8pm. The night was down sharply for HH and demos, with LOST TAPES unable to improve on its lead-in at 9pm. Both series were down by 1/3 to 1/2 across the board from their delivery in October 2009.
On Wednesday, 8pm I'M ALIVE led into a 9-11pm block of I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE, leading to slight drops in HH, Women and older demos from last year, Due to the male appeal of I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE, the night was up sharply for those demos from September, with the series nearly doubling its RM18-49 from last month.
Thursday saw wall-to-wall specials this month, with repeats of BLUE PLANET and YELLOWSTONE: FIGHT FOR LIFE taking top demo honors. The night as a whole was up slightly in Men demos from last month, but down sharply across-the-board from October 2009. All three of the aforementioned specials ran in October 2009, as well, with only WILD RUSSIA maintaining last year's delivery.
Friday's saw wholesale changes as the ubiquitous RIVER MONSTERS and new series BLOOD DOLPHINS were replaced by three runs of FATAL ATTRACTIONS for most of the survey period. This led to sharp across-the-board growth from last year, with increases from September driven by Women demos - RW18-49 was up by 2/3 over last month.
Saturday's growth was driven by DOGS 101 and PIT BOSS, which occupied 9 of the night's 12 hours in the survey. The latter series ranked #2 for all series this month, behind FATAL ATTRACTIONS.
That series joined Sunday occupant THE HAUNTED to fill 13 of the night's 15 Prime hours in October, leading to sharp female-driven growth over last month. Compared with October 2009, which was driven by two weeks of the WILD PACIFIC mini-series, though, the night was down significantly, particularly in Men demos.
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 death...now, 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."
CABLEU NEED TO KNOW:
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 (LAST AMERICAN COWBOY), pet programming, (PIT BOSS) and natural history (MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM.)
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 male audience skew. These programs are now the building blocks of the mid-week schedule.
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.
Saturday's dog programming has been going strong, especially among older women. It seems to have inspired a slew of dog- and cat-related programming, which is now spilling beyond Saturday to find regular timeslots during the week. 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. 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.
Animal Planet continues its rebranding campaign, rolling out the tagline "Surprisingly Human" at the 2010-2011 Upfront Presentation. Among the highlights, Animal Planet announced the launch of several new series, including:
DOLPHIN WARRIORS, LAST CHANCE HIGHWAY, MUST LOVE CATS, TAKING ON TYSON, SKUNK WHISPERER (wt), WORLD'S DEADLIEST TOWNS (wt). Continuing series include DOGS 101/CATS 101, THE HAUNTED, I'M ALIVE, I SHOULDN'T BE ALIVE, IT'S ME OR THE DOG, LOST TAPES, MONSTERS INSIDE ME, MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM, PIT BOSS, PIT BOSS AND PAROLEES, RIVER MONSTERS, WHALE WARS. New specials are INTO THE DRAGON'S LAIR, MADAGASCAR, WILD AMAZON, VIKING WILDERNESS.