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Media company stocks Animalist digital network with 15 new series featuring cats, meerkats, sharks, lions and more

Discovery Communications is taking the funny-cat-video legacy of YouTube to a whole new level in trying to scratch out some incremental digital bucks from animal lovers.

The media conglom debuted Animalist, a new Internet video network stocked with adorable pet videos — and more — primed for viral viewing. The slate of 15 short-form series runs the gamut of the animal kingdom, including short-form series with sharks and lions. The content is available on YouTube, Animalist.com, Xbox game consoles, mobile devices and through additional distribution partners.

The strategy partly involves Discovery recycling its 25-plus-year library of nature and animal footage, including material from Animal Planet. As with its other digital initiatives, Discovery is trying to be careful to reinforce its core TV biz, with Animalist content designed to drive audiences back to Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

SEE ALSO: Discovery Bringing Facebook’s ‘I F***ing Love Science’ to Online Video and Science Channel

“The launch of Animalist is another step forward in Discovery’s journey to both ignite audiences’ curiosity and fuel our mission to be the No. 1 nonfiction video and media company on all screens,” Sean Atkins, Discovery’s senior VP of digital networks and commerce, said in a statement.

Launch of Animalist follows Discovery’s 2012 acquisition of online video network Revision3. This year the company launched TestTube, an ad-supported online network with nonfiction programming aimed at young males, and acquired DeFranco Creative, run by popular YouTube personality Phil DeFranco.

All told, Discovery now offers more than 600 hours of original online video programming across various properties.

Other cablers that have spawned digital-video brands — separate from sites for their TV channels, but repurposing some of the same content — include Scripps Networks Interactive’s Ulive and Turner Broadcasting System’s Upwave.

Animalist, which Discovery expects to deliver 7 million monthly views, features new shows, such as “Discovery Sharks” and “Animals With Low Self-Esteem,” while Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” is hosting a show set to launch later this year. Oh, and there will be a bunch of humorous cat videos with the “Cat Pack” series starring “cat celebrities” including Lil Bub.

“Cats riding donkeys defined the early days of animal videos on the ‘Net but today’s viewers want much more, and we’re bringing it to them with Animalist,” said Jim Louderback, founder of Revision3 and head of Discovery Digital Networks.

Watch a clip of “Animals with Low Self-Esteem”:

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