Bonnie Hammer needed help after the Sci Fi Channel president added the presidency of USA Network to her titles. So she tapped marketing maven David Howe to chart the science-fiction network’s course as general manager.
The move lets Hammer devote more time to USA, to which she ascended after the NBC Universal merger closed in May.
Howe, former executive vice president of marketing and brand strategy, assumes day-to-day operational control at Sci Fi, which is enjoying a strong ratings run this summer.
After recording an 11% jump in the second quarter to a 1.0 household mark in primetime, the momentum continued with a 1.02 average mark through July 15, up from a 0.95 from the same period last year, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
Hammer hailed Howe -- who spent 15 years at the British Broadcasting Corp. prior to joining Sci Fi in 2001 -- for Sci Fi’s evolution from a network for science-fiction geeks, replete with old series acquisitions, to a more broad-based channel with quality originals.
Howe also gets credit for the network’s new, slicker on-air look and logo.
Howe said he will continue to push for more of the original series and miniseries, such as Stargate and Steven Spielberg PresentsTaken, which have enhanced the network’s profile and viewers.
In particular, the network will look at developing more reality-based series to bring in younger audiences. Thus far, its genre efforts have been a mixed bag: Shannon Doherty-produced Scare Tactics is generating decent ratings, but the network will not bring back Mad, Mad House, which produced subpar numbers.
“I’ll still be involved in Sci Fi,” Hammer said. “But from my point of view, I need to take a step back and hand the reins to someone that I totally trust in creatively and conceptually, as well as a manager, so I can take over more at USA.”
She added that she hasn’t decided yet whether or not to name a No. 2 at USA.
For more on David Howe and Sci Fi Channel, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page 2 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.