Long reads

The Euro50 Q&A – Sean Cohan

Led by senior vice-president, international, Sean Cohan, A+E Networks’ international moves this year have included the high-profile launch of the History brand in India as well as launches of the Crime & Investigation channel across a number of European and Middle Eastern territories.

Age 37

Education AB in Economics from Harvard; MBA from Stanford University

Previous positions Vice-president, business development and digital media and director, international business development for AETN International. Prior to joining A+E Networks, positions at Primedia, Morgan Stanley, NBC and AT Kearney.

Last year’s highlights 2011 was a great year for A+E Networks around the world. We launched History in India on October 9 to over 43 million homes in six languages – all firsts for a factual channel. In its first month, the channel led its category in time spent, was number two in ratings, and helped grow the total factual audience by almost 30%.  We added distribution elsewhere with Crime & Investigation Network launching across Spain, the Benelux, Middle East, and Poland. Ratings for our channels continued pace, up by double-digit percent year-on-year.  We successfully launched Lifetime Movie sales. And our JVs recruited new high-impact executives – Adam MacDonald and Anna Priest to head programming and marketing in the UK; Carolina Godoyal to run our Iberian venture; and new ad sales execs Melissa Quinoy and Charles Less in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Most significant industry development Against a skeptical backdrop and sizable technical/marketing challenges, 3D has grown significantly over the past year presenting new opportunities to platforms, broadcasters, distributors and viewers. There is more original content being produced in 3D that crosses beyond ‘traditional’ 3D genres like sports and animation into history, science, performance and more. A+E Networks has ramped up production of 3D event programming with shows like History of the World in 2 Hours and Invisible. And, as 3D enabled television sets become more affordable, and accessories become less cumbersome, penetration of 3D TVs will certainly grow. I think there’s a way to go before we see mass adaptation, but it’s all good news for the viewer and the industry.

Goals for next year Goals for next year are expanding the channel footprint, deploying the full bouquet in markets and continuing to grow audience and scale driven by storytelling. When platforms, viewers, and advertisers think about factual entertainment we want to be top of mind.

Industry challenges and opportunities There are a lot of fantastic TV brands on the air and some great content, but it is a challenge for pay TV channels and services to stand out in a cluttered market. That said, it is also an opportunity to be creative and to cut through. The key is to offer innovative, quality, entertaining content and create a destination for your viewers. Of course, the economic environment continues to be challenging and will be for some time. Finally, the industry must continue to navigate changes in technology and viewing habits – time-shifting, devices, etc. – to deliver on its promise of delighting viewers and maximizing share of entertainment wallet.

Alternative career choice Psychologist. I’m fascinated by what makes us tick and would love to help folks.

TV character most identified with Horatio from CSI Miami – his idiosyncratic delivery and canned one-liners are classics.

Most admired personality I admire people that have achieved dramatic things against tremendous adversity, and continue to expend a great deal of time and energy giving to others.

Life outside work I enjoy spending time with my wife, Jennifer; running; local sports teams; and reading autobiographies, business and true crime books.