History Channel Aims for the Future

Feb 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

New History Channel general manager Nancy Dubuc is moving quickly to put her stamp on the channel.

Ms. Dubuc is searching for a new senior VP to spearhead development and series for the network, and with longtime History Channel marketing chief Mike Mohamad being promoted to a new corporate post as senior VP of business development and marketing partnerships, she’ll also be hiring his successor.

In December Ms. Dubuc replaced Dan Davids at History, which last year ranked 16th among cable networks in total viewers during prime time. Among viewers 25 to 54, the network has been flat. Ms. Dubuc is looking to attract more viewers by replacing the anthology shows now on the network with more series on the order of “Digging for the Truth” and “Dogfights.”

Though a former development exec herself, Ms. Dubuc needs to delegate in her new position, so she’s looking for someone to develop series who has a high profile with talent, producers, writers and agents and who will be very hands-on. “This programming job is a strong signal to the creative community that we’re serious about series,” she said.

Ms. Dubuc expects to continue to have a big role in selecting the network’s series. “But at the end of the day, I need someone that producers can go to and not have to wait three days to reach that person,” she said.

She hopes to fill the senior VP post in a few weeks. Most of the network’s programming staff will report to that person. Charles Maday, who reports to Ms. Dubuc, will continue to be in charge of specials and news along with information shows.

Ms. Dubuc expects it will take a bit longer to find her new marketing chief because she has less experience in that area. She’s looking for someone who can use new media to build relationships with viewers, in addition to more traditional tune-in promotions.

“Really what’s important for me is how do we deepen and strengthen the relationship that we have with our fans and how do we harness and make profitable our brands in this new digital marketplace,” she said.

In his new role at A&E Television , Mr. Mohamad will report to Mel Berning, executive VP of ad sales for A&E Television Networks, who said the company wanted to capitalize on Mr. Mohamad’s ability to create special events that go beyond television, such as Save Our History and the Inventors’ Challenge.

“He’s going to come down here and start earning a living and making us a little money on some of these ideas,” Mr. Berning said.

Advertisers are looking for integrated marketing activities and networks have gotten proficient at putting together vignettes and other on-air executions. “The thing that is lacking out there are big ideas,” Mr. Berning said. “Mike will focus on big ideas, ideas that include a lot of different elements. Instead of stock solutions, what we’re coming up with are custom-made solutions” that include on-site events, promotions, contests and challenges that marketers can sponsor.