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PetNet TV Sniffs Out Carriage Deals

4/24/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Pet owners may soon have a channel to call their own. A cable advertising and promotion company plans to launch PetNet TV for both digital-basic and on-demand platforms later this year.

American Ingenuity Inc., which has developed on-air promotional campaigns for such programmers as Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Discovery Networks U.S. and National Geographic Channel, is preparing to unleash a PetNet TV on-demand service this fall, with the full-fledged digital service slated to bow at year-end, according to network president Jeffrey Grimshaw.

Other startup animal-based networks, like The Puppy Channel, have failed to gain traction. But Grimshaw believes PetNet TV will appeal to a significant portion of cable’s subscriber base.

With more than 400 million pets in the U.S. and over 100 million pet owners — or one out every two U.S. homes — Grimshaw said the network is targeting a very large and virtually untapped niche.

“Our target audience knows no demographic bounds,” Grimshaw said. “We believe that pets and pet parents are woefully underserved by the television industry, and therefore a network that attends to the needs and entertainment of one of the most beloved members of the American family is not only viable, but an absolute necessity.”

PetNet TV’s programming will revolve around health, instruction, entertainment and news. The network even plans to present a block of programming dubbed “playtime and relaxation,” which could feature a bird’s eye view of a live fish tank or parrot cage. “It’s everything imaginable for pets and pet parents,” Grimshaw said.

He noted that the ad-supported network has yet to approach operators about carriage, although he believes the value and breadth of the potential audience — consumers spent $35 billion on pets and related products last year — and its willingness to work with operators will garner significant distribution opportunities.

“It’s going to be whatever the industry will yield,” he said, declining to be more specific about its rate card.

Although PetNet TV would compete with Animal Planet for the hearts and eyeballs of animal lovers, he said the established service devotes relatively few hours to pet-owner issues.

“Less than 25% of [Animal Planet] programming is dedicated toward pets a week,” he said. “Outside of the dog show events, there really aren’t any shows geared for pet parents.”

Along with original programming, the network will offer an online-shopping element. PetNet TV also hopes to team with major pet supply companies like Petco and PetSmart to develop strategic marketing partnerships, although no deals have been struck.

The network will also partner with major pet exhibition and advocacy associations, and will strive to integrate Hollywood celebrities and their cherished pet companions into its programming and marketing.

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