‘Monsters,’ ‘Hillbilly’ join Planet slate

Cabler announces 12 new, 14 returning skeins

Animal Planet is bringing back 14 series including its strongest ratings performer “River Monsters,” which just returned to the air for a third season Sunday.

The cable network, owned by Discovery Networks, will also introduce 12 new series as part of its upfront announcement Thursday, including “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” about a hardy group of Oklahomans who catch catfish with nothing but their own hands and feet.

“Hillbilly” is part of the channel’s continuing strategy to broaden Animal Planet’s appeal beyond pet lovers. “Animals are a terrific accelerant to the wide range of raw, real, big entertainment audiences can expect from us,” said Marjorie Kaplan, president of the network.

Also returning for another season are Animal Planet’s flagship series “Whale Wars,” as well as “I Shouldn’t Be Alive,” “Pit Boss” and “Monsters Inside Me.”

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