Vien to Universal Networks Post

Mar 31, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Sci-Fi Channel is going international.
That’s the word from Patrick Vien, the self-proclaimed “channel-building guy.”
Mr. Vien, currently the president of Universal Television Group’s Network Enterprises unit, has just been named president of Universal Studios Networks as well, adding eight international channels to a portfolio that already includes two “emerging” digital cable channels in the United States.
First up on Mr. Vien’s agenda is to take the Sci-Fi formula boldly to where it has never gone before, namely, beyond the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States and Sci-Fi U.K. to additional countries around the world.
“Sci-Fi is a great exportable commodity,” he said. As Sci-Fi Channel in the United States continues its own high-profile programming initiatives, such as the recent Taken and Children of Dune miniseries, “Those commitments will increasingly permit us to look at Sci-Fi vehicles abroad.”
In addition to overseeing emerging American cable channels Trio and NWI: Newsworld International and UTG’s interest in Sundance Channel, Mr. Vien will be responsible for managing and operating the eight international channels that Universal owns. They are: Sci-Fi U.K, 13th Street in France, 13th Street in Spain, 13th Street in Germany, Studio Universal Italy, Studios Universal Germany, USA Network Brazil and USA Network Latin America.
Together with Universal’s USA Network and Sci-Fi in America, those channels comprise a “completely integrated global television group,” Mr. Vien said. And now Universal movies and series will feed the programming pipeline at those channels, just as Universal’s past hits, from Kojak to Battlestar Galactica, are being tapped to fuel the domestic production pipeline at USA and Sci-Fi.
MIP Convention
Mr. Vien spoke to TelevisionWeek just after returning from the annual MIP TV convention in France, which was not as well attended as previous editions of the annual international TV gathering-“for the obvious reason,” he said. “Much of the Asian representation wasn’t there, much of the Australian wasn’t there. There wasn’t a big group from Israel. From what I could gather, there were slightly fewer buyers from the big American cable networks.” In fact, organizers reported that this year’s MIP was attended by approximately 9,000 buyers and sellers, down approximately 1,000 from last year.
Before joining Universal, Mr. Vien was president and chief operating officer of North American Television, where he founded and managed Trio and NWI before their acquisition by USA Networks, the predecessor to Universal Television Networks.