Nick Davatzes will retire as president and CEO of A&E Television Networks effective April 1. Abbe Raven, currently president of A&E Network, will succeed the 21-year A&E veteran.
Davatzes, whose announcement coincided with a birthday he celebrated Monday, will transition to retirement and a new title as CEO emeritus, remaining an adviser from AETN’s Stamford, Conn., offices. Raven, president of A&E Network since September 2004, will become the company’s second president and CEO.
During Davatzes’ reign, AETN has grown from a single cable channel – flagship A&E Network – to an international, multi-faceted company with eight other businesses spanning TV programming, home videos and DVDs, CDs and Web sites. They include: The History Channel, The Military History Channel, The Biography Channel, History International, The History Channel en Espanol, Crime and Investigation Network, AETN Consumer Products and AETN International.
Combined, AETN channels reach more than 230 million TV households in more than 130 countries.
This year, AETN reached Davatzes’ professed goal of becoming a “billion dollar company.” Having seen financial success of late at AETN, it was widely speculated that Davatzes would step down in the coming months, but a retirement date had not been announced and a successor had not been named until today.
Raven, who celebrates her 23rd anniversary with the company today, served at A&E Network since its launch in 1984, holding various executive responsibilities before taking over as president.
Under her watch, A&E has seen steady ratings growth with younger demos – up almost 90% in prime with 18-49 year olds since she rejoined the network in 2002 from a stint as EVP and GM of sister network, History Channel.