The monstrous outrage over Shark Week’s opening-night fake documentary does not appear to have taken a bite out of the franchise’s performance. Wednesday, Great White Serial Killer clocked an average of 3.2 million viewers at 10 PM, to become Shark Week’s most-watched Wednesday program in the franchise’s 26 years. (Top Ten Sharkdown delivered 2.78 million viewers at 9.) Interestingly, Wednesday’s Serial Killer netted a bigger crowd than either of Shark Week’s Tuesday programs: I Escaped Jaws (2.71 million) and Spawn of Jaws (2.77 million).
Discovery’s Shark Week Facebook page was swamped Monday with self-described longtime viewers who raged against Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives – the opening-night premiere, in which actors playing scientists bloviated about the “return” of a monster shark that became extinct 1.5 million years ago. It appears that Shark Week fans are not regular viewers of Discovery’s Animal Planet channel, or they’d be wise to the whole fake docu programming thread that’s taking hold at the company. Just this past June, after Animal Planet’s fake docu, Mermaid: The New Evidence (a follow-up to its earlier fake docu, Mermaids: The Body Found) snagged that network’s biggest haul in its history (nearly 4 million viewers), the mermaid show’s creator was promoted to oversee a newly created Original Content Group for Discovery’s whole company of networks.
At Discovery Communications’ upfront today, the company’s Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery presented their slates of new and returning series. (See Discovery/Harpo-owned OWN’s announcement here). Discovery Channel, which had its highest-rated January ever in total viewers and adults 25-54, is putting an emphasis on live events with specials Fast N’ Live and the Grand Canyon tightrope walk Wallenda Live as well as scripted TV with its first scripted project, miniseries Klondike. The network’s unscripted slate features 10 new series, including The Huntsmen, Rock Raiders, two Naked shows, Hidden Kingdom and Survival.
TLC’s slate features 52 new and returning series, including the return of pop culture hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Breaking Amish and its spinoff. Animal Planet returns 20 series and new ones like Eel Of Fortune, about hunting prized eels off the New England coast. Its best-performing series ever, River Monsters, returns April 7. Investigation Discovery, meanwhile, is offering up its second original newsmagazine Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and the Jerry Springer-hosted Tabloid.
Here are details for all the Discovery networks:
Silver Spring, Md. – Whether exhibiting human-like behavior or living an existence so foreign it is fascinating, the animal kingdom has the power to mesmerize. Today, Discovery Communications announces the debut of Animal Planet L!VE, featuring unfiltered, round-the-clock access to the compelling worlds of the beautiful, cute and misunderstood. The 24/7 digital experience builds on Discovery Communications’ long-standing success with live animal cams, including Penguin Cam and Shark Cam, and acts as a digital complement to Animal Planet and its on-air programming.
Monday 26th March 2012 – ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) has signed a distribution agreement with Animal Planet, the world’s only entertainment brand that fully immerses viewers with the animal kingdom. The deal will see ITVS GE distribute 150 hours of Animal Planet programmes to all territories outside of North America. Initially, ITVS GE will introduce buyers at MIPTV to some of Animal Planet’s current slate of breakthrough content, including Gator Boys, Call of the Wildman, North Woods Law, Too Cute!, Puppies vs. Babies and Bayou Prison.
Maria Kyriacou, Managing Director of ITV Studios Global Entertainment said: “Animal Planet has a reputation for first class, internationally relevant factual and factual entertainment programming; and a brand which carries a strong resonance with audiences around the world. We are thrilled to represent this fantastic slate and look forward to presenting the diverse range of programmes to buyers at MIPTV.”
“We are thrilled to partner with ITV Studios Global Entertainment on this venture,” said Rick Holzman, senior vice president of programming and scheduling at Animal Planet. “We are sure that ITVS GE’s global market expertise will help to expand the footprint for Animal Planet’s breakout content around the world.”
Animal Planet has promoted Charlie Foley to SVP and head of development. He will continue to report to Animal Planet president and general manager Marjorie Kaplan. Additionally, the network has brought in two development executives as VP to …
The joint-venture channels — OWN with Oprah Winfrey, and The Hub with Hasbro — aren’t included. What’s more, “there is not any specific content that Netflix is entitled to,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav told investors this morning at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference. He wouldn’t talk about the economics of the deal but says that they will “become apparent” the next time the company reports its quarterly earnings. He adds that while “we don’t know what’s going to happen with Netflix” — which is grappling with consumer fury after it raised prices 60% for those who want to stream video and rent DVDs –”right now we think that will not create an issue for us.” Here’s the release about Discovery’s new Netflix agreement:
Los Gatos, Calif. and Silver Spring, Md. — Netflix, Inc. and Discovery Communications today announced a two-year non-exclusive licensing agreement that allows Netflix members to instantly watch prior-season series and specials, including an expanded selection of additional seasons of popular series from Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, as well as Investigation Discovery, Science and Military Channel. Among the highlights are Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, and Animal Planet’s River Monsters and other titles from Discovery’s rich program library.
Disney has licensed exclusive global rights to the Avatar franchise from Fox and James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment — and the director will help to develop the attractions, CEO Bob Iger says. The first will be at Animal Kingdom in Orlando. The goal, he says, is to enable visitors to “enter the Avatar universe and explore it first-hand.” Cameron adds that “to bring that to life at Animal Kingdom is fantastic because it’s so thematically aligned. … We want to do things that maybe they haven’t even thought of.” Tom Staggs, who runs Disney’s theme parks, says the company is “just beginning the development phase” for a complex that will begin construction in 2013 and include Avatar-themed shops and food destinations to “bring that world to life.” Although he wouldn’t say how much the company has budgeted, he compared the scope of the first project to the 12-acre Cars Land site at Disney California Adventure Park. Cameron is working on two Avatar sequels that he plans to release around Christmas 2014 and 2015. ”That seems to correspond well” with the park plans, he says — noting that the destination will include environmental features that don’t appear in the movie. Iger says the attraction will open after the movies, although “we’re in the ballpark.” Avatar will add jobs in the ”low single digit thousands,” Staggs says. Here’s the release:
BURBANK, Calif. — Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.
It’s April’s Fools day, and the TV networks are having fun too. Animal Planet announced it has signed a deal with Twitter star @BronxZoosCobra for a two-hour documentary, @BronxZoosCobra: SNAKE ON THE TOWN. “We’re looking for raw, untapped talent,” said Marjorie Kaplan, president of Animal Planet and Science Networks. “We …
From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA Coverage:
Ricky Gervais is Now a Man of Science
Nobody has more fun than Ricky Gervais, as he proved Thursday afternoon during a TCA panel that originated live via satellite from overseas. Gervais was joined by his writer-producer partner Stephen Merchant and …