A+E Networks Upfront: May 9, 2014

NYC’s Park Avenue Armory was the site of A+E Networks Upfronts presentation, with programming news to tantalize advertisers – and a “Social Media Lab,” where attendees could land on the big screen as a cast member of shows like Wahlbergers by typing in their name and Twitter handle. Among the net’s stars in the packed house were Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson; Bates Motel cast members took selfies with fans on a Bates Motel room bed. “I’m here to tell you that TV is not dead,” said A+E president and DEO Nancy Dubuc. “We are in the next golden age of content.”


Speaking of, A&E greenlit four series and four pilots. New series Dogs of War tells the stories of war veterans matched with companion canines, premiering in fall 2014; reality show Godfather of Pittsburgh launches in fall 2014; social experiment Love Prison (wt), will make a summer 2014 bow and Lone Star Lady (wt), about a woman trying to keep her struck-it-rich family humble, arrives in summer 2014.


In development at A&E are 8 Minutes (wt), about an organization working to save young girls from prostitution; build-a-business series Big Brew Theory (wt); Nightwatch (wt), following emergency responders, and The Unproduceables (wt), about a producer’s chaotic attempt to create a reality show starring senior citizens.


“We are making a significant investment in growing our original programming,” said David McKillop, GM and EVP of A&E. “These projects represent a small percentage of the new innovative formats that we hope will excite current A&E viewers and attract and engage new audiences.”


On the Lifetime front: the net is adapting best-seller The Red Tent for a two-part mini-series, starring Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Morena Baccarin (Homeland), Minnie Driver (About a Boy) and Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment).


The company’s upcoming fyi will be “more personal, more upscale and more useful” than existing lifestyle nets, promised A+E ad sales president Mel Berning. As for History and H2, “We have a complete, state-of-the-art media toolbox,” said GM Dirk Hoogstra. “We’ve already got the hardest part of the equation figured out.”



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