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Animal Planet sharpens its claws

Dispatch

SINGAPORE — Animal Planet is discarding its fluffy image in the Asia Pacific region for something a bit more ferocious.

Born of Discovery Networks and U.K. pubcaster the BBC, the four-year old Animal Planet’s new tagline “It Grabs You” heralds programming like “Men on the Edge,” with Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, Jeff Corwin and Mark O’Shea. Venomous snakes and cantankerous crocs attempt to woo adventurous auds — a far cry from the channel’s previous “fluffy” nature shows.

Meanwhile, Discovery Networks Asia is preparing to roll out its Discovery H&L (Health & Leisure) and Science channels in Asia, but the industry is mixed about the wisdom of the move.

“There is a risk of cannibalizing content, advertising revenue and viewers from the mother channel,” one media buyer says. “Quality can be compromised — audiences won’t watch a thinly programmed channel just because it belongs to a strong brand stable.”

Discovery dismisses this. “Every new channel has to be able to address two universal affiliate concerns: Will this help drive subscriptions and will it reduce (viewer) churn?” a spokesman says. “A weak channel isn’t going to make it, regardless of the parent brand.”

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