/// A+E Sales Boss Mel Berning Takes on Broadcast Bullies

April 8, 2013  |  Media Week

If you’re a big investor in TV inventory, Mel Berning would like a word about his broadcast competition. “They’re 10 percent off on supply,” said Berning, A+E Networks’ president of ad sales. “So the question is, OK, do you want to pay the failure tax? I mean, name two hit shows.” Berning’s no stranger to hit shows, as the AETN brands specialize in cranking out the sort of broad reach unscripted fare that also appeals to younger viewers. History boasts the megahits Pawn Stars and American Pickers, and A&E’s Duck Dynasty is an absolute monster, averaging 8.21 million viewers in its third season. “Across the portfolio, with pretty clean targeting, we can play up and down the age skew and the income skew,” said Berning, who superserves three very distinct demographics in History, A&E and Lifetime . While it’s too early to assay how this year’s upfront will shake out, it’s hard to imagine that the inherent efficiencies won’t continue to work in cable’s favor. Last year, the Big Four booked $9.2 billion in advance commitments, while cable racked up a record $9.8 billion. Broadcasters aside, AETN’s greatest challenge may lie in the cloning of its successful unscripted series. There’s truTV’s Hardcore Pawn—easily confused with Pawn Stars—and Spike’s Auction Hunters—which looks just like Storage Wars, among many others. The secondhand shows do well, too

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A+E Sales Boss Mel Berning Takes on Broadcast Bullies

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