New York-In the minds of its affiliates, A & E Network is already established as a lucrative local ad-sales generator.
Now, A & E Television Networks senior vice president of affiliate ad sales David Zagin intends to put the spotlight on the sales potential of The History Channel.
Noting that affiliate ad-sales experienced double-digit growth, Zagin said last week's reorganization of the AETN affiliate sales force into Eastern and Western regions-coupled with the promotions of seven staffers-will provide "a better way to service clients of both A & E Network and The History Channel."
Zagin described A & E as "a very strong performer in [generating] local sales, consistently fourth-, fifth- or sixth-ranked."
This year, he added, he intends to "put a lot more emphasis behind History" by raising its relatively untapped local business potential to a level commensurate with its strong recent performance in the Nielsen Media Research ratings.
So far this year, History's insertable subscriber count has jumped 4 million to 21 million, he said. A & E-among the first networks to employ local insertion as MSOs began deploying digital ad-insertion equipment in the late 1980s-has grown steadily to about 58 million insertable subscribers at present, he added.
Zagin said his affiliate-sales force is about to begin a "blitz" to call operators' and interconnects' attention to History's strong male demographics appeal and to suggest the network as a logical addition to their sports-network packages.
One recent affiliate tie-in that capitalized on this involved the cross-country "Great Race" promotion in the spring. Zagin said the two-week race began in Boston and ended in Sacramento, Calif., generating "terrific success" among affiliates and local clients along the route.
"We're now finalizing the route for 2001," he added.
In the weeks and months ahead, Zagin's teams will pitch other History promo tie-ins to be developed around such programs as This Week in History, a newly launched primetime series, and Founding Fathers, a four-parter set for the fourth quarter.
A & E's agenda includes affiliate tie-in opportunities linked to The Great Gatsby, with AT & T Broadband already planning tie-ins in 10 of its top clusters for January, and two new springtime installments of Horatio Hornblower, which inspired one of A & E's most successful promotions last year.
Zagin declined to get into specifics on MSO participants, but he did say A & E has had strong participation for its various affiliate promotions from the top six MSOs.