Docs

Michael Cascio takes Animal Planet by the horns

At the turn of the millennium, Michael Cascio traded in his title as senior VP of programming at the A&E Network to join NBC News as VP of cable programming development. Now, only 18 months later, he's poised to take the...
June 1, 2001

At the turn of the millennium, Michael Cascio traded in his title as senior VP of programming at the A&E Network to join NBC News as VP of cable programming development. Now, only 18 months later, he’s poised to take the reigns at Animal Planet as executive VP and general manager – his third title in less than two years. Says Cascio, ‘With the background I have, the challenge with Animal Planet is to widen its appeal. That’s what attracted me – it takes a very imaginative, creative effort to attract a big audience.’ Cascio also saw the offer as a rare chance to lead an already successful enterprise. ‘You don’t get too many opportunities to run a fully distributed, major network,’ he notes. ‘It’s not like I have to build it from the ground up. They just want to move to the next level.’

Cascio plans to do that by embracing a variety of program genres. ‘I think the success of the channel has been in trying different forms,’ he explains. ‘I think we’ll continue to do that, but [we'll also] figure out which of those forms works best, and concentrate on those. There may be more than one, as there’s a broad palette of programming to choose from and I would be silly not to take advantage of that.’ Cascio hesitates to specify the types of programs AP will look into, but he notes the outlet’s signature programs are more entertainment/information programs than they are pure docs. In fact, The Crocodile Hunter is currently AP’s most popular series, attracting between one and two million viewers each week. Its host has even been parodied on Saturday Night Live, a sure sign the program has established itself in North American pop culture. Adds Cascio, ‘Animal Planet is primarily documentary programming, but there’s a lot of other reality type programs as well as fictional programs.’

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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