Spike Chief Gets Axed

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A network executive with a 57% ratings surge should be gloating, right? But not Spike TV chief Albie Hecht: He lost his job.

Hecht resigned over the weekend. MTV Networks issued a press release Sunday afternoon saying Hecht resigned because of "creative differences".

MTV Networks is expected to announce as early as Monday that Comedy Central President Doug Herzog will take charge of programming the network, though Spike will still report in some fashion to Nickelodon Group President Herb Scannel.

What’s the problem with Spike?

The network’s growth is coming from the wrong kind of viewers: women. Re-launching Spike in 2003, Hecht’s mission was to draw younger male viewers. It worked, to a point.

That first year, women accounted for just 32% of the network’s prime time viewers, making Spike the most male-skewing network in television. But nightly runs of CSI starting last year have pushed the female audience to 42%.

That would be fine if Spike were also drawing more of its targeted demo. But Spike’s ratings among men 18-34 increased a mere 4% in the fourth quarter of 2004. (It’s doing better among 18-49s, up 15%.)

The bigger problem may be that Spike hasn’t developed other programming that scores with guys.

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