Having gotten her start with the company at the History Channel, Ms. Dubuc was happy to return to her roots. "I feel like I'm going home," she said.
During her stint as senior VP-programming at A&E, Ms. Dubuc was integral in ushering in reality programming by creating the channel's Lifestyle block and A&E's IndieFilms division, which released the documentary "Jesus Camp" this fall to critical acclaim in select cities.
Ms. Dubuc's new History Channel position opened up when current General Manager Dan Davids, who's been with the company for 22 years, announced he will be stepping down at the end of the year. Just 45 minutes into her next career step, Ms. Dubuc chatted with MediaWorks about her new gig and the dedication to quality nonfiction programming she brings with her.
MediaWorks: You've been very involved with multiplatform initiatives at A&E. How will you continue that with the History Channel?
Nancy Dubuc: I'm very aware and respectful of the powerful brand the History Channel has built and the success that surrounds that brand. What we're looking at is not evolving or changing that, but how do we continue to grow that brand in a rapidly changing marketplace? That may include new-media extensions and the way we look at linear programming, or it may include how we talk to the educational marketplace. Then it will be a comprehensive look at making sure the History brand extends to all the logical places that it should in the same successful way that it does on the linear network.
MediaWorks: What have you learned about the History Channel through the years? Are viewers loyal to the brand as a whole or are they tuning in more for specific programming?
Ms. Dubuc: The viewer is incredibly loyal. I know that anecdotally and I know that from the numbers. They're with us night after night, hour after hour. It's a great relationship and I'm very excited to be able to exploit the success.
Basically, we've found a hold in the industry in terms of a successful upscale audience composed of 70% males. This is gold for what everyone's looking for out there, and History's been able to mine that successfully in 90 million homes, with an international presence in over 122 countries. ... I'm looking forward to seeing the ways we can super-serve that viewer and transporting the History brand into the different ways men are now using technology and the way that men are consuming their content.
MediaWorks: The History Channel has been known for its dedication to quality nonfiction content, which is something you've touched on from all sides, executive-producing feature-length documentaries such as "Jesus Camp" for A&E's IndieFilms as well as for the network. Do you plan on continuing this at the History Channel?
Ms. Dubuc: Executive producing will be on the side as it comes; I'm not sure I'll still have the ability to do that, but when I feel passionate about something, I have a way of getting my way. ... It's important to embrace the creative community and follow ideas so to speak openly to what the creative community is saying and is passionate about. How I was led to "Jesus Camp" at A&E was being open to and embracing the creative community.
We're doing the same at the History Channel with that open-door policy. We look for opportunities to extend the brand and to build on our successes through innovations that come through producers and other strategic partners.
MediaWorks: Is the History Channel more competitive from a programming standpoint or are there just lots of networks vying for that coveted demographic?
Ms. Dubuc: From a programming standpoint. We're in the business of content. There are a lot of people in the business right now and content does drive the marketplace to a large degree. We are synonymous with being the best at what we do. We need to maintain that and not exceed ourselves. The hardest thing to do is to best yourself -- that will be my challenge.