by CARLY COTT
235 E. 45th Street
New York, NY 1001
President and Chief Executive Officer, A+E Networks
President, Brand Strategy, Business Development and A+E Studios, A+E Networks
With it’s beginning in 1984, A+E Networks has blossomed from a collaboration between The Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company, into an international media company with 11 channels and six original brands. A+E stands for “Arts and Entertainment” and reaches nearly 160 markets worldwide, communicating to a wide array of over 60 different languages. A+E incorporates ten channels, A&E, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, History, FYI, Crime and Investigation, History (Spanish), and Lifetime Real Women. Dance Moms on Lifetime, and Duck Dynasty on A&E together are two of A+E Networks top shows, as well as most watched shows.
In 1984, on February 1, the Arts and Entertainment Network, now more commonly known as A+E network, was formed and began broadcasting. A show called, “Biography” is then introduced the network in 1987, as a once-a-week-prime-time series. It was not until 1990 that A+E began commissioning episodes of “Biography”. Three years later, in 1993 the Rockefeller Group decided to sell its total interest in A+E to Hearst Corporation, ABC, and NBC. The official name change from Arts and Entertainment to A+E, was made in 1995, when “Biography” became a five nights a week screened show. The History channel and Biography Chanel International were then launched in November of 1998.
When the network began broadcasting on February 1, 1984, the network hit 1,500-cable systems with nine million subscribers. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), give the network a range of rights to British programming. In just the first year, over 60 percent of A+E’s programming came from the BBC. Excitingly, the network turned its first profit in 1987, and within the year had revenues surpassing $50 million. Cable subscribers upped to a whopping 37 million, and between 1987 and 1997, the networks average growth stunted at 30 percent per year in profits and revenues.
By 2001, the History channel hit a 70 million-subscriber mark, making it the fastest growing cable network since its launch. Following, in 2009 A+E Networks combined with Lifetime Entertainment. This year, the company celebrated 30 years, and is thought to be worth around $26 billion.
A+E is a privately owned company, so there were no public financials to be found.
On March 17th it was announced after 11 years working for A+E, Neil A. Cohen is leaving the network to join UTA as an Alternative TV department agent. Cohen will now be based in the New York and work with talent in cable and network. He worked at A+E as the Senior Vice President of Talent and Production, giving him what Brett Hansen noted as, “an unbeatable combination”.
On March 18th, it was announced that A+E had promoted their two senior programming executives after the departure of previously mentioned David McKillop. Elaine Bryant who worked as Senior Vice President of Programming moved into her position as Executive Vice President and head of programming for the A&E Network. Paul Cabana also got to Executive Vice President and head of programming for History and H2. He had previously been posted as the Senior Vice President and head of programming for H2. Bryant reports to Rob Sharenow, and Cabana reports to Dirk Hoogstra. Hoogstra and Sharenow noted both executives as being, “vital to the success of A+E Networks”.
Liz Gateley is returning to the executive ranks and to Lifetime. Gateley has been named Executive Vice President and Head of Programming for the network. She from now on will be the head honcho in charge of movies, scripts, and unscripted series development. Lifetime has had an absent spot for head of programming since JoAnn Alfano. At the time, Lifetime was put under the watchful eye of A+E Networks’ own Nancy Dubuc.
HIGHLIGHTS/LOWLIGHT OF SPRING 2015
Spring 2015 was maybe not as exciting as Fall 2014, but had some action. Weather it was the launch of the new history website x, the collaboration and production of a new production and distribution company, or the return of a hit series, A+E Network continues to moves in a forward and upward motion into the Summer months
April 13th, it was announced that A+E Network is launching an “Asterisk Internet Media Brand” with new spins on history, trying to spice things up a bit. So what’s the point of it all? A+E says the point is to, make history worldwide seem “less like homework”. The website, “Asterisk” features stories looking deep into contemporary culture and entertainment throughout the span of history. The site is aimed at the millennial generation, and includes mass amounts of visual stimulation, videos, photos, etc. As of the launch, the site does not have any marketing partners, but A+E says those deals are in the works. The site is split into 10 different categories including, life skills, sports, people, food and drink, ideas, arts and entertainment, work, style, travel, and tech. Evan Silverman, Senior Vice President of Digital Media for A+E Networks, says “People tend to think about history as Abraham Lincoln, but we can provide context to contemporary people, trends or places”. Silverman hopes to give viewers a daily dose of history in a new and innovative way, making it user friendly, and relevant to today’s culture.
On March 20th, it was announced that Howard T. Owens, former National Geographic Channel president, is going back to independent TV production. The launch of a new production and distribution company, “Propagate Content”, will be run by Owens and partner David McKillop. McKillop has worked as Senior Vice President of Development and Programming at History, then as Executive Vice President of Programming for A&E, eventually moving on to work as Executive Vice President and General Manager for A&E channel. A+E Network is an equity partner for the new company, “Propogate Content”.
It was announced on January 9th the hit series “Mountain Men” was retuning for a fourth season. The show follows six men whoa re living far from civilization, using survival skills, hunting skills, and skillful cunning efforts to stay alive, clothed, and fed. The men face chaos in the unpredictable series that prepares them for the unpredictable.