New York -- A+E Networks is hungry for a piece of the $1
billion that may be up for grabs in this year's upfront due to the continued
viewership erosion on the broadcast networks.
At its upfront presentation on Wednesday evening, AEN ad
sales president Mel Berning took aim at "our broadcast ancestors" asking advertisers
to pay increases for declining audiences.
"We're not doing that. Their business model problems
shouldn't be your problem," he said. "If you're tired of paying a failure tax,
we have lots of successful programs for you to invest in," citing hits like
History's The Bible and Vikings, A&E's Duck Dynasty and Lifetime's Dance
"In most businesses, you reward success with more
investment," Berning continued. "Because we've enjoyed more success again this year, our
fair share of your upfront budget is bigger this year than last. And I'm sure
that you can find that money at a lot of networks that aren't doing quite as well
as we are."
Indeed, AEN did see all three of its flagship network post
year-over-year growth in 2012: History was up 4%, A&E up 3% and Lifetime
was up 9% among adults 25-54 in primetime. Later in the presentation,
newly-elevated president and CEO Nancy Dubuc said the goal for the next year is
to grow second-tier networks H2, Bio and LMN into more powerful platforms. "You'll
be hearing more from us on that over the coming months," she said.
Dubuc also previewed some new programming, including
A&E's Those Who Kill starring
Chloe Sevigny as a police detective tracking down serial killers, the History
two-part miniseries Houdini starring
Adrien Brody and Lifetime's unscripted country music series Hillbetties.
Lifetime also developed the movie event Bonnie and Clyde, which AEN will simulcast on all three of its
networks. The project about the famous couple that went on a two-year crime
spree during the Great Depression stars Holly Hunter, William Hurt, Emile
Hirsch and Holliday Granger.
A+E held its upfront at the Tent at Lincoln Center on New
York's Upper West Side where guests were entertained with a set by the band fun
and posed for pictures at photo booths with the cast of the networks' shows
like Duck Dynasty and Pawn Stars.