Animal Planet is an American satellite and cable television channel (also broadcast via IPTV in the UK), launched on October 1, 1996 and distributed by Discovery Communications. The channel's broadcasts are mainly documentaries about animals. A high-definition simulcast of the channel launched September 1, 2007.
The network's first logo, used from October 1, 1996 to February 3, 2008 in the United States.On January 1, 1997, Animal Planet's distribution grew as a result of Discovery Communications buying the channel space of WOR EMI Service, a national feed of New York's WWOR-TV that was implemented in the light of the SyndEx laws enforced by the FCC.
It is available throughout the United States and in over 70 countries around the world.
Country-specific versions of the channel have been created in Canada, India, Japan, Taiwan and other countries.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore has an exhibit of Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extreme which opened in late 2005 in a multi-million dollar expansion. Animal Planet and the National Aquarium in Baltimore in 2004 announced a multi-year partnership which produced an original orientation film that gives Aquarium visitors background on the Australian area which inspired the new exhibit and a dedicated area inside the expansion where visitors can learn about Animal Planet's conservation efforts and other programming. The partnership also has possible future production of TV programs about the National Aquarium in Baltimore's research and exhibits.
In 2006, BBC Worldwide sold its 20% interest in Animal Planet US back to Discovery Communications. The BBC maintained its 50% ownership in Animal Planet Europe, Animal Planet Asia and Animal Planet Latin America and its minority position in Animal Planet Japan and Animal Planet Canada.
Genius Products has announced a U.S. distribution agreement not only with Animal Planet, but also with TLC.
Jakks Pacific has just signed a license to make Animal Planet pet products.
On February 3, 2008, Animal Planet "relaunched" itself under a new image that sheds "its soft and furry side for programming and an image with more bite." As part of the relaunch, Animal Planet replaced their elephant and spinning globe logo for a starker text image that allows more flexibility in its usage. Eight new series and specials are scheduled to air in February, with the new shows aimed at reaching a more adult audience with programming designed to tap into humans' basic instincts with stories that reiterate what makes humans human.
The goal is to move from being perceived by viewers as paternalistic, preachy, and observation-based to being seen as active, entertaining and edgy. That means targeting adults 25-49, rather than full families, with less voice-of-God narration and more visceral imagery and sounds. Think of it as swapping a drab narrator saying that a lion is about to kill its prey for the blood-curdling scream of the doomed creature as it meets its demise.
—Anne Becker, Broadcasting & Cable
Recent additions to the channel, such as Meerkat Manor and Orangutan Island, already reflect this newer focus on "predation programming" and more immersive story telling. Animal Planet hopes this new direction will help revitalize stagnating ratings, after primetime viewing in 2007 dropped 9%.
Animal Planet is offering new dramas, fantasy and comedy series for the 2008-2009 season.
Animal Planet HD Edit
Animal Planet HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast of Animal Planet that launched September 1, 2007. It is currently available on Dish Network, Cox, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.
It was also recently launched, (February 3, 2009) in Norway for Canal Digital, in which Norway is the first country outside the US to get this channel in HD.