Purely Licensing Shows Is Out

Non-premium TV networks must re-assess their “unsustainable” business models amid rising content costs, A+E Networks CEO and president Nancy Dubuc has warned.

Dubuc, who has been in her role since 2013, told NATPE delegates an “arms race” in high-end premium content means broadcasters should aim to own more content and focus less on a rerun-based business model.

“Costs have risen dramatically over the last five or so years and that’s not sustainable – even for bigger businesses like ourselves that are buying hundreds of hours of TV a year,” Dubuc said in her opening keynote during NATPE Miami. “There needs to be a bigger focus on creative innovation versus business models and cash flow.

“Purely licensing shows is a model that doesn’t work on cable. A lot of companies are turning inward to their own studios and, as technology changes and business models change, they are more reliant on live streaming services and international. We have to be able to control that back end.”

As an example, Dubuc said she regretted that A+E Networks-owned History channel did not own the rights to its original period drama Vikings. “It pains us that we don’t own Vikings,” she said, bemoaning the fact that rights to the show are held by MGM Television.

Meanwhile, the exec said dealing with “the middle area” of content was now making her “nervous,” adding that A+E Networks needs to “figure out how to do things much more efficiently so it frees us to make the big bets.”

She also admitted that A+E Networks had been “victims” of overgrazing content in the past, and said her firm needs to become more efficient in its business strategy, which recently saw it invest in U.S prodco Propagate Content, youth-network Vice, and its own in-house agency 45th & Dean.

“We either have to do 80% of new premieres, which might not be sustainable, or look at different cost structures,” Dubuc added.

A+E Networks attends NATPE Markets annually.   NATPE provides brands like A+ E Networks a number of opportunities to get in front of decision-makers in the content business.  For information on exhibition packages, sponsorship and advertising opportunities, contact your NATPE sales executive,  call  +1 310 453 4440 or send a note to sales@natpe.org.

This article was originally published in the NATPE Daily. Read more from NATPE Daily Day 2.