A&E Promotes Raven, Davids

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A&E Television Networks last week elevated two of its top executives, naming Abbe Raven and Dan Davids president of A&E Network and The History Channel USA, respectively.

Raven had been serving as executive vice president and general manager of A&E, while Davids held the same titles at History.

The promotions — which came just short of two years after the two executives swapped jobs to redefine the networks’ brands — were announced as both services are enjoying solid ratings performances.

“Some people were skeptical when we made the changes, but I believe if you put the right people in the right positions, you can win the World Series,” said AETN president Nick Davatzes. “Abbe and Dan deserve the credit.”

A&E said it has recorded double-digit growth in ratings and overall impressions during the first eight months of this year.

In August, A&E registered a 34% jump among its target audience of adults 25 to 54, averaging 563,000 of those viewers, a 34% jump from August 2003, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Network officials said that performance extended the network’s growth against that demo to 11 consecutive months.

Over the past year, Raven has given the green light to seven new primetime series and five original movies for 2004-05, including Airline, Family Plots, The First 48, Growing Up Gotti and Dog the Bounty Hunter, as well as some of the highest-rated movies ever on the network, such as Ike: Countdown to D-Day and The Riverman.

Davatzes stood by Raven and the network’s creative direction, which has seen A&E evolve toward more reality fare.

“What we’ve always tried to do is have well-written and well-produced shows. With the series like Airline, Family Plots and Gotti, and the movies with Ike and The Riverman, it’s still about people, but a little different kind of story-telling,” he said.

Under Davids, History has also produced increases in ratings and target-viewer demographics. The network said 2004 has been its most-watched year ever, as it has pulled a 1.0 household primetime rating or higher each month. Year-to-date, History has averaged 512,000 viewers 25 to 54, up 13% versus the same span in 2003.

Davatzes said History would not veer from programming that skews heavily male.

“A&E is about 65% female, while History is 70 to 72% male. Similarly, The Biography Channel is more female than History Channel International,” he said. “The networks complement each other and we want to live within that reality of market segmentation.”

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