"As soon as I introduced her and said she was from Petfinder, people would grab her and hug her," Ms. Smith said. It was a validating experience for her, as yesterday Petfinder.com, a pet-adoption site that links shelters to prospective pet owners, became part of Animal Planet. At the same time Animal Planet also acquired PetsIncredible, a producer of pet training videos. The collective cost of the acquisitions is estimated to be about $35 million.
Domestic pet business
For the record, Animal Planet is not about to start showing all crazy cat videos. But a pair of acquisitions show the Discovery-owned cable channel is beginning to tap into the domestic pet industry in a bigger way.
"We will never abandon the wild animal shows," said MS. Smith, who is exec VP-general manager of Animal Planet. "But this is a really change for us in making an effort for us to acquire businesses that tap into that $34 billion pet industry."
Animal Planet is also following the lead of other Discovery networks in turning itself into what it calls an enterprise business, which means the cable network is the flagship for a whole host of other businesses, including licensing, merchandising and e-commerce. Animal Planet has a line of small pet toys at Target, for example, and a line at Toys 'R' Us.
Incidentally, Petfinder.com's 7 million unique monthly visitors and 120 million annual impressions is much larger than Animal Planet's web traffic, Ms. Smith said, and the cable network's online site will link back and forth to Petfinder.com in an effort to drive traffic both ways. An Animal Planet logo will also now appear on Petfinder.com and PetsIncredible videos, but little else will change.
Ms. Smith said the increased emphasis on the pets business should also help advertisers. "So many people who own pets are part of families," she said. "And they don't just buy dog food and kitty litter but cars and they go to movies and they go to restaurants."