Back when he rising from PA to director of programming at HBO, Kevin MacLellan knew that he wanted to work in the global television business. Today, as the president of Comcast International Media Group, he has grown the company considerably, launching E! Entertainment Television as an international network which has added 96 million subscribers over six years.
Persistence was key for MacLellan in rising through the ranks of the TV industry, and it is evident that the same work ethic has been a factor in the continuous rollout of CIMG properties E! Entertainment Television, The Golf Channel, The Style Network, Versus and G4 throughout the world.
It all started with E! ‘It struck me as a strong brand combined with content that was owned and created by the group, combined with a subject matter that was universal and I thought that was fantastic,’ says MacLellan.
Now he has his eye on the Golf Channel and The Style Network for more international deals. For Golf Channel, which MacLellan considers a valuable asset because of its focus on an international sport, it also has the added bonuses of appealing to an extremely upscale, advertiser-friendly demo, and other than the tournaments that it carries, it produces all of their own content.
As for Style, the content appeals to young affluent women, and also covers a topic with universal appeal. ‘The interesting thing about Style is that it’s good that it produces less than 70% because we get to fill the rest of it with local programming,’ says MacLellan. ‘Style is one of the networks that needs the most amount of localization, in my opinion, because while certain beauty and fashion trends are global, there are many that are also particularly local.’
A major plus for MacLellan is that CIMG owns most of the content on its properties. ‘By owning it, we get to exploit it not only in multiple countries, but across multiple platforms, which with every week that goes by, becomes more and more important.’
Establishing firmer footholds in some global territories and extending into new ones will be priorities for CIMG, says MacLellan. ‘Despite the fact that E! is in 120 countries, we’ve already launched Style in something like 19 countries, and Golf is in Korea, Japan, Latin America, Canada, but we don’t have India. And then Russia is another that we’re spending quite a bit of time on,’ he says. ‘We had so many launches so quickly over the years that we were focusing on the markets that delivered the higher revenue streams. We recently began to really expand our Eastern European business because our businesses in Western European, Latin American, [and] major Asian markets, not to mention Australia and New Zealand, had already been built out. Certainly in this year and next, Central and Eastern Europe are strong interests to us, but we sort of have a strong foothold there and we hope to continue to expand that.’