(Updated as of October 27, 2008)
TOP PRIMETIME SHOWS:
Top rated regularly scheduled programs are primarily shows from the HEROES STRAND: ANIMAL COPS DETROIT, ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON, ANIMAL PRECINCT, MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE. But this month WEIRD, TRUE AND FREAKY and UNTAMED AND UNCUT took the top-rated programming slots.
The best performing specials this Septemer were: RIVERKILLER ELEPHANTS; WORLD'S WORST VENOM; PREDATOR VS. PREY; SEASON OF THE GRIZZLY; HIPPO: AFRICA'S KING RIVER; GRIZZLY DIARIES and HEART OF A LIONESS.
Thematic scheduling around animals / species is a favorite strategy that is employed quite often. The top rated COPS/PRECINCT block, known as HEROES is stripped at 10pm, and blocked out on Mondays. Tuesdays lean toward the wild or raw side of animal life, Fridays lean toward "reality" programming (MEERKAT MANOR, LEMUR KINGDOM), and 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.
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2008
The 10PM HEROES programming strand is now scheduled so that each week brings us a different program - ANIMAL COPS DETROIT the first week of the month, followed by MIAMI ANIMAL POLICE, ANIMAL PRECINCT and ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON. On Tuesdays KILLING FOR A LIVING is gone and WEIRD TRUE AND FREAKY is in, with UNTAMED AND UNCUT as the 8PM lead-in. On Wednesdays AT 8PM WILD KINGDOM is gone, replaced with AFTER THE ATTACK. 9PM brought us ANIMAL WITNESS all month, no specials. Thursday remains various programming. Fridays leads with specials instead of BIG CAT DIARY and MEERKAT MANOR. UP CLOSE AND DANGROUS was replaced with GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES at 9PM. GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES encores on Sundays at 8PM, replacing various programs, particularly UNTAMED AND UNCUT.
** September 6 @ 8:30: PLANET'S FUNNIEST ANIMALS was scheduled to return, but it didn't.
** September 7 @ 10PM: WEIRD, TRUE & FREAKY (will air regularly on Tuesdays at 9PM)
OCTOBER AND BEYOND:
** October 1 @ 10PM: K9 COPS (new series)
** October 7 @ 8 & 8:30PM: WEIRD, TRUE AND FREAKY (new series)
** October 11 @ 8PM - 9PM: DOGS 101/CATS 101 (10 ep series)
** October 11 @ 9PM: IT'S ME OR THE DOG (new season)
** October 21 @ 10PM: LIVING WITH THE WOLFMAN (new series)
** October 30 @ 9 & 9:30PM: HOWL-O-WEEN specials: LOST TAPES
** November 7 @ 9PM: WHALE WARS (new series)
** November 9 @ 7PM: ORANGUTAN INSLAND (season 2 premiere)
** September specials include: UNTAMED & UNCUT Labor Day marathon, September 1 from 9AM - 8PM
** October specials include: ANIMAL PLANET DOG CHAMPIONSHIPS; HOUSTON on Saturday, October 4 from 8 to 11PM; THE WORLD'S UGLIEST DOG COMPETITION on Saturday, October 25 from 10 to 11PM.
** November specials include: THE VANISHING FROG on Thursday, November 20th from 8 to 9PM
** December specials include DANCING WITH DOGS (December 6th), HEROES WEEK (Dec 8-12), 2008, THE YEAR IN ANIMALS (December 13th), ANIMAL GLADIATORS (December 14th).
YEAR AGO/BIG PICTURE:
Again, Animal Planet's primetime audience for households and demos is virtually the same size as last year's audience. The only change was a 10% loss among women 25-54; all other demos were even with last year. Despite the new direction, logo, tagline and programming, the bottom-line numbers have not moved much at all. Median age is the same; male/female skew is the same (43/57).
Of course there was some movement night to night. Twenty percent or more losses on Wednesdays and Fridays were balanced by fifty percent increases on Sundays.
The only programming to return from last year was the HEROES strand (which is now broken out into individual programs). Last year's HEROES program ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON plus MEERKAT MANOR (under the TAILEVISION strand) dominated the top-rated programs and telecasts, This year ANIMAL COPS is a dominant player on the top-rated list, along with the new "wilder" programming, UNTAMED AND UNCUT, WEIRD TRUE AND FREAKY and MANEATERS.
Treading water is definitely better than sinking, but what will it take for Animal Planet to see positive movement from its audiences? They haven't found it yet.
SEPTEMBER 2008 PRIMETIME RATINGS ANALYSIS:
After a couple of months without much change in the ratings, Animal Planet's September saw...not so much change in the ratings! Actually, there was zero change among households and women, but men 18-49 and men 25-54 fell off by 13%. This has to be disappointing as the net continues to roll out male-oriented "wild and untamed" programming.
Monday's line-up of HEROES programming, particularly ANIMAL COPS HOUSTON went the same way as the network. Women and households were fairly steady, while male viewing plummeted (down 30% on audience, 50% on share). These are big drops considering the programming was virtually the same.
Tuesday saw the best growth of the week. While household audiences were flat, demos, especially 18-49 demos, rose nicely. Men 18-49 ratings were up +14%, women 18-49 ratings were up +20%. HEROES programming at 10PM was usually the best performer of the night, but WEIRD, TRUE AND FREAKY brought in new viewers, with UNTAMED AND UNCUT as a strong lead-in. This new program delivered best on its debut night on Sunday, but still did well on Tuesdays, its regular timeslot (for now).
MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM was gone from Wednesday nights, and so was nearly 50% of the male audience. Women dropped by just 5% or so, and household ratings were down by -11%. WILD KINGDOM was never one of the top performers on the line-up, but it was steady. Its AFTER THE ATTACK replacement performed 30% to 50% lower and was not a strong lead-in to ANIMAL WITNESS, which lost between 46% and 88% of its audience this month vs. last.
Not surprisingly, Thursday's male-oriented specials (KILLER ELEPHANTS, PREDATOR VS. PREY, WORLD'S WORST VENOM...again) held onto last month's men, but lost about one-quarter of the women.
Friday night continued with GRIZZLY MAN DIARIES, and the total Friday night audience did not show any movement vs. last month, despite that program dropping audience from its premiere. HEROES programming saved the night.
Saturday is still for the dogs...as IT'S ME OR THE DOG shows 29% improvement among 18-49 and 11% improvement among women 25-54 viewers.
Sunday is down between ten and twenty percent across the board. It remains the best-rated night for households and men. With its "raw" themed programming (UNTAMED AND UNCUT, WEIRD TRUE AND FREAKY, MANEATERS), it is the only night of the week to attain a (slight) male skew.
ADDITIONAL RATINGS ANALYSIS:
According to Animal Planet, the August 24 series premiere of ANIMAL WITNESS drew in 616,000 A25-54 viewers and more than 1.1 million total viewers.
FOOLED BY NATURE, PLANET'S FUNNIEST ANIMALS, MOST EXTREME, CAUGHT IN THE MOMENT, UP CLOSE AND DANGEROUS
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