After months of conjecture, A&E Television Networks on Tuesday announced it has named Nancy Dubuc president and general manager of Lifetime Networks.
In her beefed-up role, Dubuc will be responsible for strategic planning, programming, consumer marketing, publicity and brand development at the group, which includes the flagship channel and Lifetime Movie Network.
She reports to AETN president and CEO Abbe Raven.
Dubuc assumes control of Lifetime at a pivotal point in the channel’s history. Once a top-five network, Lifetime closed out 2009 ranked No. 15 among ad-supported cable properties, averaging 1.19 million viewers in prime. That figure represents a 20 percent decline from the prior-year delivery (1.49 million).
As competition from the likes of Bravo, TLC and ABC Family ate into Lifetime’s base of women 18-49 and women 25-54, other female-targeted nets like Oxygen and WE tv also nibbled away at the core demos. Upon AETN’s acquisition of Lifetime in August 2009, it became evident that the new parent company was prepared to make sweeping changes, both on the programming schedule and in the executive ranks.
Former Lifetime chief Andrea Wong was said to have begun devising her exit strategy before the ink dried on the deal memo. Wong, who had joined Lifetime in April 2007, officially stepped down this February.
Fortunately for AETN, change is Dubuc’s bread and butter. As president and general manager of History, Dubuc has revitalized a brand that had been beholden to grainy newsreel footage, swapping out the familiar cache of World War II documentaries in favor of more contemporary fare like Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars. Since 2007, History has boosted it prime time deliveries by 11 percent, averaging 1.29 million viewers, while adults 18-49 are up 20 percent to 564,000.
The influx of younger viewers hasn’t crowded out the core demo. In 2009, History averaged 617,000 adults 25-54 in prime, an improvement of 15 percent from 2007.
As she assumes the top spot at Lifetime, Dubuc will retain her post at History.
Before engineering the History makeover, Dubuc had served as senior vp, programming, A&E, where she supervised the development and creation of the network’s non-fiction slate. A prelude to her successful run at History, Dubuc’s efforts at A&E helped drive similar ratings gains.
On the eve of the upfront, oversight of Lifetime’s ad sales efforts has been taken up by AETN evp, national ad sales Mel Berning. Two weeks ago, Lifetime evp, ad sales Debbie Richman jumped to corporate step-sister ABC, where she accepted the role of senior vp, prime time sales. Richman stepped in for Geri Wang, who earlier this year was elevated to president of ABC sales and marketing, replacing Mike Shaw.
With the addition of Lifetime’s $650 million portfolio, Berning now controls roughly $1.35 billion in annual ad sales revenue.
“Nancy is one of the most dynamic executives working in television,” said Raven, by way of announcing the promotion. “Her track record of success by focusing on a brand’s target audience and creating programming for them is extraordinary. Nancy has great respect for the power of the Lifetime brand and I am confident she will lead the terrific team there to new heights.”