Last February Animal Planet rebranded to compete more heavily with other channels and viewing choices. The network’s president and GM, Marjorie Kaplan, recently shared with realscreen how it has continued to build on that strategy and what it has in store for the fall season.
‘I think we’re so busy changing the channel all the time,’ laughs Kaplan. ‘We made a very dramatic shift over a year ago and now about playing that out and building on it.’
Part of that process involves taking the net’s breakout success stories, such as Lost Tapes, Whale Wars, Dogs 101 and River Monsters – which was the highest rated show in the channel’s history by its second episode this year – and using them as opportunities to build out new programs in the same vein.
This October, Dogs 101 will serve as a stepping stone to the new pet series SuperFetch. The new series features YouTube sensation Zak George as he teaches dogs how to do insane (and sometimes useful) tricks such as finding the remote control, taking keys out of a purse a recently-manicured woman and riding a bike. ‘It’s animal training meets a Judd Apatow film,’ says Kaplan.
In keeping with Lost Tapes and River Monsters the channel is building on the theme of scary animals and monsters with a special on werewolves and a new series called The Haunted which premieres in November. Playing on the myth that animals can sense ghosts and the paranormal, The Haunted uses first hand accounts with pet owners, paranormal professionals and evidence from hauntings to explore the relationship between animals and the afterlife.
Also in Q4 Animal Planet will add the new series Why I’m Alive(w/t) which uses recreations to account near death encounters with animals. ‘They’re stories of survival,’ says Kaplan. ‘There’s the wonderful pleasure of watching things that are really scary but knowing everybody lives.’ Other programs to look for are The Herd, which follows 1,200 free roaming elephants at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and new series of Jockeys (in its expanded hour-long format); Weird, True & Freaky and Lost Tapes.