America's Got Cable: Animal Planet vs. National Geographic

Welcome to another pulse-pounding week of America's Got Cable: The Search for the Nation's Finest Basic Cable Channel!

OLD BUSINESS: The readers of TV.com have spoken and the winner of last week's bout between TBS and TNT is...


******************************************TNT******************************************

Dang, I did NOT see this coming. I mean, I definitely saw TNT's strong points, but you voters really love your hour-long dramas! Makes sense, I guess it's better to have drama on TV instead of IN OUR LIVES, am I right? Okay, congratulations, TNT. You might have an explosive name, but this week it's TBS that goes BOOM!


NEW BUSINESS: This week's battle has teeth!

 
ANIMAL PLANET

Background: Animal Planet was born in 1996 when it crawled out of the Discovery Channel's womb and scurried up into its pouch. Created in a partnership between Discovery Communications and the BBC, Animal Planet was originally intended to showcase the kind of classic, Richard Attenborough-narrated nature documentaries that sister-station Discovery Channel had begun to leave behind. For a while its reputation was wildly wholesome, its most-watched programming being home video pet bloopers or Puppy Bowl halftime shows. But in 2008, Animal Planet gave itself a makeover by unveiling a new lineup of edgy, admittedly trashy—but simply amazing— reality programming that focuses on freakish animals and the weirdo humans who love them.

Original Programming: To glance at the current Animal Planet lineup is to face your worst nightmares: Hauntings, maulings, monsters, bears, pit bulls, Mike Tyson, the list goes on. But at least these nightmares are very entertaining! Current favorites I Shouldn't Be Alive, Fatal Attractions and Confessions: Animal Hoarding provide constant reminders that maybe humans aren't MEANT to cohabit peacefully with animals. Meanwhile, Taking on Tyson, Must Love Cats, Blonde vs. Bear, Pit Boss, and Pit Bulls & Parolees suggest the exact opposite: Sometimes we really CAN all get along.

Reruns: Animal Planet is one of the few cable channels that eschews traditional syndicated reruns, instead favoring ad nauseam repeats of documentaries like Planet Earth and its own weird one-off specials like Pig Bomb.

Why It's The Best: Because Pig Bomb! Also, Cats 101. Also anything this channel airs? Confessions: Animal Hoarders seriously has to be seen to be believed.

Why It's The Worst: Many of these specials and original series are roughly 95 percent B-roll and stock footage set to over-the-top dramatic music. Have you ever tried to get through an episode of River Monsters? It's just 44 minutes of an excitable foreigner shouting at water. Basically, what I'm saying is, sometimes these shows are maddeningly sensationalized.


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL

Background: Although the National Geographic Channel (NatGeo for short) is a relative newcomer on the scene, its pedigree is one of the oldest and most respected nature publications in the world. NatGeo first launched in America in early 2001 as a co-production between Fox Cable Networks and the National Geographic Society, the latter of which had been producing respected nature specials for television since the 1960s. Additionally, the actual print publication has featured award-winning journalism and photography since 1888! That is so many naked ladies! But anyway, yeah, to make a cable channel out of this thing was a no-brainer.

Original Programming:Unfortunately, part of being a new channel means that very few of your programs get much exposure. That's not to say NatGeo isn't trying it's darndest to play with the big kids. Its lineup is already chock full of sensationalistic reality programming, including Shark Men, Beast Hunter, Prison Women, Taboo, and Locked Up Abroad. NatGeo's best-known hit is probably the Cesar Millan-fronted Dog Whisperer.

Reruns: Like Animal Planet, NatGeo also avoids traditional reruns and instead gives plenty of play to its enormous library of documentary specials.

Why It's The Best: NatGeo has a much wider scope than simply animal attacks and maniac pet owners. Its journalist background means that any subject is fair game as long as it has some kind of informational value, and unlike the sensationalized overproduction of much of Animal Planet's programming, NatGeo tends to favor entertainment that's—dare I say it?—educational.

Why It's The Worst: NatGeo really isn't the worst, but it IS slightly depressing in its attempts to outright copy Animal Planet. Like, I'm sorry, but airing things called Monster Fish or I Came Away Alive is kind of embarrassing. You're better than this, NatGeo!


Official TV.com Verdict:

This is not a fair fight, obviously. But the world isn't fair. That's just nature! So for sheer entertainment value, it's ANIMAL PLANET with a triumphant pterodactyl screech.

But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: Animal Planet or National Geographic Channel? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Click below to see the full-size tournament bracket:

Comments (43)
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Jun 05, 2012
i used to watch animal planet religiously- that is until they started to play shows that should have been on discovery. come on people, its ANIMAL planet. NOT human planet.

once they changed the logo to "surprisingly human" it went down hill.

call of the wild man? are you serious?! just plain retarded if you ask me.



so im going to have to go for NatGeo for now, until AP gets some common sense again and plays shows with ANIMALS on it- not some stupid host, or reality shows about people.
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Apr 03, 2011
Animal Planet!
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Apr 01, 2011
nat geo
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Apr 01, 2011
nat geo
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Apr 01, 2011
Animal Planet
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Apr 01, 2011
I used to love to watch the Purina Dog challenge or something like that.
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Apr 01, 2011
Animal Planet. Who doesn't love the Puppy Bowl? ^^
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Apr 01, 2011
I grew up loving animal planet. Then I went to school and got a zoology degree and found out that a lot of the things they tell people on that channel are wrong. So I'm gonna have to go with NatGeo.
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Apr 01, 2011
I am going to have to go with NatGeo. eventhough I love Animal Planet it does get a little boring and gross sometimes. Animal hoarding is one of those programs.
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Mar 31, 2011
animal planet
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet!!
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo all the way! You get real information presented in an entertaining way. Awesome channel
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal planet because of Untamed & Uncut. The only thing I watch on NatGeo is Dog Whisperer or Planet Earth.
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Mar 31, 2011
nat geo
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Mar 31, 2011
nat geo!
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet
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Mar 31, 2011
NAT GEO
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Mar 31, 2011
NatGeo
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo definitnly, the only cool part about Animal Planet is when they do the Into the Pride and cover other crazy african animals, all the cat and animal police stuff are boring reality that i could watch by just watching my neighbor
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet is for Dummies! Go Nat Geo
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Mar 31, 2011
NAT GEO!
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet!
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet - no question!
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet
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Mar 31, 2011
i love locked up abroad - how can you compete with that?! nat geo!
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Mar 31, 2011
ANIMAL PLANET! IT'S SO MUCH MORE ENTERTAINING!
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Mar 31, 2011
animal planet fosho. i find netgeo being pointless. you should just have discovery instead.
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Mar 31, 2011
NatGeo....love all those mega cities, structures and other mega things
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo has way too many cop and drug shows for me. Animal Planet all the way!!!
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet, as a TV channel goes. If I want to "learn", I will go to the library and read a Nat Geo magazine. They do have great photos!
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Mar 31, 2011
natgeo for me......
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Mar 31, 2011
I pick National Geographic because it is educational as these two channels should be. Animal Planet has become a joke...its like MTV with animals.
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Mar 31, 2011
Animal Planet for me I don't get National Geographic.
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Mar 31, 2011
I'm going to have to go with everyone else so far with National Geographic. My reasons are this: My impression of these two channels is that they should be educational. I view AMC, USA, HBO, etc... for excellent television dramas/comedy/what-have-you. Animal Planet as an entertainment channel with animal related programming? To me, that take is all wrong, and maybe I am missing the point, but I see it and NatGeo as being there for education. And with that, NatGeo is the clear and easy victor.
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Mar 31, 2011
National Geographic
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Mar 31, 2011
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL
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Mar 31, 2011
National Geographic. Brains beats out sensationalism any day of the week. Their programming, whether it's the science of fighting or watching simple animal documentaries, NatGeo has way more depth than Animal Plant. Plus, it sucks that AP took over I Shouldn't Be Alive and made it less about the science of survival and more about emotionally gutting the real survivors on camera.
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Mar 31, 2011
NatGeo for its long tradition of quality programming and for having a broader scope than Animal Planet. Also, all the mega-builds and mega-machines it presents which are just plain awesome!

But in all fairness, you can't really compare the two, just as much as you can't compare Discovery Channel to Animal Planet - they deal with different subject matter.
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo
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Mar 31, 2011
National Geographic, just for its overall educational value
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Mar 31, 2011
Nat Geo FTW!!
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Mar 31, 2011
uhhh...fish shows on ngc came before river monsters copy. NGC is a lot more than animals, seems a weird comparison!!!
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