“Today we require the largest event space in Manhattan,” A+E Networks President and CEO Nancy Dubuc told the crowd tonight at New York’s vast (and packed) Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I’m here to tell you that TV is not dead. We are in the next Golden Age of content,” she added, zinging that it’s TV content that drives the business at competitors Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, and others. Surrounded by stars from the multichannel network group — including Duck Dynasty‘s Willie and Korie Robertson; Devious Maids leads Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez and exec producer Susan Lucci; Nick and brother Drew Lachey, stars of their own new series about a bar in Cincinnati; and superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson, among many others — Dubuc ribbed introducer Mark Wahlberg, another linchpin of the network, saying “I love it when a man knows his place — right, ladies?”
Dubuc emphasized A+E’s expanding commitment to original programming, to the current tune of $1 billion per year. New shows in the coming season include History’s Texas Rising, about the wild and sometimes violent history of the Texas Rangers; a Lifetime miniseries based on The Red Tent, a popular novel that reworked Old Testament stories through the eyes of women; and A&E’s Dogs Of War, a series about a couple who pair veterans struggling with postwar trauma with canine companions.
Dubuc and A+E Networks sales chief Mel Berning put on a high-voltage show, introducing the company’s newest addition to the group, fyi, which promises content viewers will find full of useful information. “Those other lifestyle networks are so formulaic,” while fyi, will be “the more personal, more upscale and more flexible brand.” History and H2 General Manager Dirk Hoogstra touted those channels’ appeal to male viewers. “We have a complete, state-of-the-art media toolbox,” Berning said. “We’ve already got the hardest part of the equation figured out.”
A+E even appeared to be going a bit meta with one show, Lifetime’s Un-Real, a new series that goes “behind the scenes” of a Bachelor-type reality program to expose the shockingly blurred lines between real and scripted (or at least very strongly suggested, by the producers of such programs) encounters among the various players in their states of jealousy, inebriation, sorority and sorrow. After the brief presentations by each division, food and drinks were served, New York rockers Vampire Weekend entertained and people lined up to work a robot arm that dropped A+E-branded swag down a chute.
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