TV network aims for new viewing audience: dogs

Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:19pm EST
 
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By Marty Graham

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nielsen isn't tracking the network's ratings and broadcasters aren't copying its programs -- not yet, anyway. But a new cable TV station has a fresh audience in its backyard and tails are wagging excitedly.

DogTV, a cable network for dogs, launched in San Diego this past Monday aimed at stay-at-home canines and their workaday owners who want to feel better about time apart. Free at launch, people will eventually pay $4.99 a month for the channel, but that may seem a small for sum for fido's peace of mind.

"We find it helps with separation anxiety, a problem for many dogs, and with keeping dogs relaxed and entertained," said Lisa Wilhoit McCormick, co-owner of Fido & Co. dog country club here, which is the official home of DogTV. "It does look different from human TV - the colors are different and the videos are taken from a dog's point of view."

She said the idea arose from people with stay-at-home dogs who couldn't bring them to a day care facility like Fido & Co. while the owners were at work.

Americans spent more than $45 billion on their pets in 2009, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. A growing number of the 63 percent of American households with pets are spending more than $4 billion a year on grooming, boarding and doggie day care. So, why not TV?

Dog psychologists and behavior experts put about 400 hours into researching what TV-watching pooches like to see and hear and how programs should look.

DogTV's scientific advisory board includes Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor of veterinary medicine and behavior at Tufts University and British dog trainer Victoria Stillwell.

"Every dog has a little different taste in programming," Neumann said. "We have learned a lot and we're hoping to learn more from this launch," according to DogTV chief executive officer Gilead Neumann.   Continued...

 
Bulldogs stand in the ring during competition at the 136th Westminster kennel Club Dog Show in New York's Madison Square Garden, February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar