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Fall TV Preview: Animal Planet

Following the February rebrand, the network's choice seems clear; no longer a destination for stuffy animal-themed docs, Animal Planet wants to compete with regular network factual fare for viewers. 'We realized we had cut off all sorts of avenues for exploration about what really makes compelling television and great entertainment,' says president and gm Marjorie Kaplan. 'So we just re-opened some of those arteries.'
August 1, 2008

Following the February rebrand, the network’s choice seems clear; no longer a destination for stuffy animal-themed docs, Animal Planet wants to compete with regular network factual fare for viewers. ‘We realized we had cut off all sorts of avenues for exploration about what really makes compelling television and great entertainment,’ says president and gm Marjorie Kaplan. ‘So we just re-opened some of those arteries.’

This is leading the channel into a broader range of shows, some that focus on humans with animal relationships and some that straddle the line between fact and fantasy. The channel’s programming philosophy is that its content should be as entertaining and compelling as other viewing choices. Some such shows for the fall include the series Mr. & Mrs. Wolfman (w/t) about the life of Shaun Ellis, an enthusiastic wolf expert who lives amongst wolves in a British wildlife park. Creature, by Santa Monica-based Go Go Luckey (of Paranormal State fame), blends fact and fiction by dramatically creating the stories of bizarre, possibly mythical, animals as though they were real.

Series like these are the primary focus of the channel, but it will continue to air one-offs to a more limited degree. According to Kaplan, there isn’t necessarily a daily strategy, though pet entertainment night is Saturday, Monday is anchored by Animal Cops and Friday is docusoap night. The rest of the week is open to play with and see what pops, she says.

‘One of the key goals is we want people to be talking about us,’ says Kaplan. She wants viewers to find shows they weren’t familiar with and like them enough to be talking about them the next day.

Where it airs: 94 million homes
Hours on air: 24/7
Website: www.animalplanet.com
Send pitches to: Charlie Foley or Marc Etkind, VPs of development
Upcoming shows to watch for: Mr. & Mrs. Wolfman (w/t), Jockeys, Creature, The Grizzlyman Diaries, Whale Wars

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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