Tv network

How A+E Networks’ Garner Manages the TV Network Group’s Programming Library

Mark Garner’s job would have been much simpler ten years ago. As vice president of global content sales and business development at A+E Networks, he is responsible for securing deals to distribute the company’s own original programming.

“My job is to sell all of the content we have in our library and all of our upcoming content that we produce in the future to a multitude of partners,” Garner said on the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.

The “multitude” may not reflect the scale of distribution points. In the past, distribution would have been largely limited to selling the shows through storefronts, whether physical like Blockbuster or digital like Apple’s iTunes. But the scope of those deals now spans the spectrum of streaming services, from Netflix and Discovery+ to The Roku Channel and Crackle. And then there are A+E Networks’ own streaming properties, including its 24/7 channels running on free, ad-supported streaming TV services.

However, setting up these deals is not as simple as selling to the highest bidder. Sometimes a short-term deal can reduce long-term pay. “While there may be some really interesting checks that could be written in the short term, they may, in fact, not take into account the opportunity cost of the long-term value, the lifetime value of that content. “, said Garner.

The equation would likely only be more complicated if A+E Networks decided to roll out a standalone streaming service a la Paramount+ from Paramount.

“Right now, we’re very happy with our position in the ecosystem where we have the ability to widely distribute our content across a number of different places,” Garner said.

Here are some highlights from the conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity.

Assess the long-term benefits of a show

We have franchises that we believe that by preserving them in some way will create greater value for us in the long run. It’s really hard to say what will age well and grow over time. It has a lot to do with how well it performed in its early days on the linear arrays where we created them.

Valuing a linear TV program according to its digital distribution

We had a “Kings of Pain” show, which we had on the History channel. It was a really interesting sight: these two guys walking around different countries and places and measuring pain thresholds. But honestly, it didn’t perform as well as we would have liked on History. But it worked really, really well in some digital environments. And it became an opportunity for us to produce a second season and make those digital environments the real reason we’re continuing with this show.

Extend the life of a TV show

It is both a quantitative exercise and a very qualitative exercise. It takes into account many demographic, psychographic and environmental factors to determine where it will work best. What I love about everything we’re going through right now is that something that probably only had a lifecycle on a TV network for a few years can be extended for years and years and years if you do it right.

Reduce the duration of distribution contracts

You see shorter deals being made. While many of us would like these trades to be longer, trades are getting shorter and shorter, so trade cycles are happening more frequently.