In its third overhaul in three years, MTV Networks pushed out TNN's top executive and plans to reposition the channel as one aimed squarely at men.
TNN's new president is Albie Hecht, previously president of TV and film production for the Nickelodeon side of MTVN, including TNN and TV Land. He replaces General Manager Diane Robina, who has shepherded TNN since Viacom acquired it in acquiring CBS.
Hecht says he plans to repackage the channel as "television's first entertainment network for men." That's men 18-49, of course. "Look at what Lifetime has done for women. That's what we want to do for men," he said. That's tough without the quintessential male TV programming, pro sports. But Hecht says that, by putting acquired shows and original product "through a filter", he expects to cement the new image.
TNN's male skew is already heavy. Nielsen data show that 66% of TNN's prime time audience is composed of men. That's topped only by History Channel (69%), ESPN and ESPN2 (73%), and Speed Channel (75%).
TNN wants more. Categories for youthful men—like videogames, fast food, beer and soft drinks—are some of the most robust, and "there is enough spending out there to cut into," said media buyer Tom DeCabia, executive vice president for PHD. DeCabia thinks TNN could also capture the male tween demo as they grow out of Nickelodeon.
In her three years, Robina made strides replacing TNN's old-skewing, country positioning (it used to be The Nashville
Network). But so much of that initial gain was from World Wrestling Entertainment shows. Robina also bought male-oriented product, including Star Trek: The Next Generation
and upcoming cartoons. TNN recently said it plans to debut a "provocative" adult animation block anchored by Striperella, featuring Pamela Anderson; Gary the Rat, with Kelsey Grammer; and new episodes of Ren & Stimpy.
Replacing Robina was driven more by MTVN's decision to reposition the network, not her track record, according to an executive in the know. Robina is considering another job at MTVN.