Discovery Networks Benelux has launched a Dutch programming block of female-orientated lifestyle and entertainment channel TLC via a timeshare on Animal Planet Netherlands. Programming, which began airing on the 4th of July, has replaced Animal Planet programming from 18.00 through to 6.00 each day. TLC programming will reach an estimated 7.5m subscribers across the country from launch.
Animal Planet's low primetime viewing share has prompted Discovery to consider alternative ways of increasing its prime time and late evening audience share. Discovery has decided that targeting a female audience, competing with channels such as Net5 and RTL 8, which carry female-oriented programming such as 'Gossip Girl' and 'How Clean is Your House', carries the best chance of success.
Net 5 and RTL8 reach an estimated 7.5m households each. Whilst Animal Planet has roughly the same household reach, it currently has less than half the viewing share of RTL 8 and around a quarter of Net 5's audience. Viewing data from audience monitoring body Stichting KijkOnderzoek suggests that female-targeted programs at prime time can command a significant proportion of the market, with programs such as 'Dream House Wanted' and 'Boys against Girls' taking large audience shares at times when male audiences are frequently engaged in watching football and sports programming. Currently Animal Planet has a male-skewed programming line-up in the Netherlands, which suffers from this competition. Discovery will lose current Animal Planet primetime viewers, and risks damaging non-primetime audiences through loss of exposure, but evidently considers the trade-off worthwhile. Furthermore, the launch of TLC as a programming block, rather than as an entirely new channel allows the company to test the waters for TLC content, without the costs of launching an entirely new feed.
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