EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, DISTRIBUTION
A&E TELEVISION NETWORKS
WHEN DAVID ZAGIN WAS LOOKING FOR A JOB AFTER Graduating from Syracuse University’s School of Management in 1987, he
went to long-time family friend Bob Miron, chairman of Advance/
Newhouse Communications, for advice and help. Miron introduced
him to some folks at MTV Networks, which immediately snapped him
up. Zagin was eventually responsible for the distribution and marketing
for MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and Comedy Central.
“We’ve known David a long time and he always impressed me,”
Miron said. “After he graduated from college, he asked me to introduce
him to some people in the cable business. I did that, but he did
the rest. He is a good salesperson and he does his homework. He’s been
impressing everyone he’s worked for and with ever since.”
After stints at MTV Networks, Fox Networks and NBC, Zagin — recipient
of this year’s Vanguard Award for Marketing — joined A&E
Television Networks in 1999 and today serves as executive vice president
He oversees all affiliate sales revenue, domestic distribution and affiliate marketing for A&E Network, History, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie
Network, Bio, History International, Lifetime Real Women, Military
History, History en español and Crime & Investigation Network. He
also is responsible for all revenue, distribution and marketing efforts
for AETN in Canada.
Zagin also is responsible for AETN’s new media and business development
for cable, satellite, and telco distributors including: video on
demand, broadband, interactivity, gaming, and mobile distribution.
He said one of his biggest challenges these days is making sure
AETN’s brands are prominently represented on all those platforms
with all the company’s affiliates.
“We always work to make sure our brands are relevant regardless
of the platform,” Zagin said, noting the distribution unit has created
its own business development department to evaluate trends and new
business opportunities. “We want to make sure we know what’s real
and what we can take advantage of.”
Zagin works closely with AETN’s digital media, Web site and marketing
department chiefs to coordinate goals and action items. “We’ve
opened up more internal talks between departments,” he said, “which
gives us an opportunity to work in unison to determine what is in the
best interest for us and our affiliates.” That can add to the complexities
of negotiating carriage agreements, but ultimately is more beneficial for all parties, Zagin said.
“David understands that marketing starts in the relationship, and
he has forged many successful partnerships with cable operators,” said
Char Beales, president of the Cable & Telecommunications Association
for Marketing, on whose board of directors Zagin serves. “Both
sides win with stronger marketing for great programming.”
Since joining AETN in 1999, Zagin has spearheaded the distribution
growth of each of the company’s domestic cable networks with A&E,
History and Lifetime, now reaching more than 98 million households.
In addition, LMN is distributed to 76 million subscribers, while each
of BIO and History International are distributed to more than 57 million
He has been at the forefront of advanced advertising having retooled
AETN’s affiliate ad sales operations by integrating advertising
into on-demand versions of AETN shows several years ago. Zagin admits
the changing pace of the industry has forced him to look differently
at the business and his job.
Zagin and his network peers “have gone from heads of distribution
who push linear networks to general managers of distribution overseeing
new media, marketing, distribution and local ad sales,” he said.
“But one of the best things about my job is the number of elements it
encompasses today. It’s constantly changing and evolving.”
For example, he said, he is currently focusing much of his time on
network authentication. “We are asking ourselves, ‘How can we deploy
our networks to authenticated platforms and provide more of our
product to consumers?’”
Prior to joining AETN, Zagin was at NBC Cable serving as vice president
of affiliate sales, local ad sales and alternate technology. Zagin
was responsible for the distribution of MSNBC, CNBC, and Valuevision
for cable affiliates in the eastern half of the country as well as all
alternate technology distribution. Zagin joined NBC Cable in March
1996 and was a member of the distribution management team responsible
for the successful launch of MSNBC.
After his experience at MTV Networks, Fox Networks lured him
away prior to the launch of FX Network in 1994. Zagin serves on the
AETN executive operating committee as well as industry boards, including:
CTAM, CablePAC, T. Howard Foundation, and the WICT Governance