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Animal Planet brings it home

Net spends $35 mil on pet-related netcos

Animal Planet plans to shift the balance of its programming from wild animals to domestic pets with the $35 million purchase of Petfinder.com and PetsIncredible.

In a second announcement, parent company Discovery Communications has formed Animal Planet Media Enterprises, the umbrella company not only of Petfinder.com and PetsIncredible but of the Animal Planet cable network, which reaches 90 million homes; Animalplanet.com; broadband Web site Animal Planet Beyond; and the net’s video-on-demand and wireless platforms.

Animal Planet exec VP-general manager Maureen Smith said, “Pets represent a $34 billion-a-year business in this country, so we’re increasing the presence of the pet side of our coverage. Our goal is to be a source not only of entertainment but of information, to be a resource for consumers.”

Animal Planet calls Petfinder.com “the No. 1 pet-related Web property.” Smith said Petfinder attracted 7 million unique visitors in September who combined to chalk up 120 million page views.

PetsIncredible is a producer-distributor of videos on the training and grooming of pets. It also comes with a Web site, Petvideo.com.

The new purchases are also geared to the creation of more merchandising extensions, such as Animal Planet’s long-term partnerships with Toys ‘R Us and Target.

Smith’s duties will expand to encompass the entire Animal Planet Media Enterprises operation, but she’ll still report to Billy Campbell, prexy of Discovery Networks U.S.

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