by Caley Wildermuth
235 E. 45th Street
New York, NY 1001
Beginning in 1984 as a joint venture between The Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company, A+E Television Networks is now an international media company with over ten channels, six original brands, and owner and operator of the informative historical website Bio (5). Standing for “Arts and Entertainment” Television, the company reaches over 330 million homes of 160 markets in over 60 different languages and a variety of genres, including both reality and scripted shows. Their ten channels include A&E, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, History, H2, Military History, FYI, Crime and Investigation, History en Español, and Lifetime Real Women (6). Top shows across all channels include History’s Vikings and Pawn Stars, Lifetime’s Devious Maids and Dance Moms, and A+E’s Duck Dynasty and Bate’s Motel (3).
Created in 1984, the company only consisted of one channel: The Arts and Entertainment Channel. Although small in the beginning, the channel’s first-ever original programming propelled the company to new heights. Beginning with only 9 million subscribers, the company began to stray away from their original theme of fine art content into content more accustomed for a younger audience. This included historical documentaries and sitcoms that helped boost subscriptions. One of their most popular series was the show Biography, a docuseries that chronicled the lives and stories of famous celebrities and societal figures and brought the channel its first Emmy nomination in 1990. (7)
As subscriptions skyrocketed, the channel officially changed its name to A & E on its 10th anniversary and began to refocus its image into three themes: “biographies, mysteries, and specials” (7). With this rebranding, the company launched three new channels including the History Channel, the History International Channel (now known as H2), and the Biography Channel, which was recently rebranded as the new channel, FYI. By 2001, the History Channel hit 70 million subscribers, making it the fastest cable network to hit those numbers since launch. Continuing their expansion, in 2009 A+E Networks combined with Lifetime Entertainment Services to add the various Lifetime channels (6). The company is now just celebrating their 30th year anniversary and is considered to be worth $26 billion (8).
A+E Television Networks is not a publicly traded company, therefore no information regarding financials could be found.
CHANNEL NEWS AND HIGHLIGHTS OF FALL SEASON
A+E Networks saw many high points with the close of the fall and 2014. Twelve of its shows broke the list of top 50 most watched shows for age group 25-54 (3). Listed below are some of those highlights.
Houdini Sparks Big
Starring Academy Award winner, Adrien Brody, the miniseries chronicled the life of the ever-mysterious and famous magician, Houdini. The show reached over 3.7 million viewers on its first night, “making it cable’s number one miniseries premiere of 2014” (10).
New Channel Fares Well
Rebranded in summer 2014, the Bio Channel is now FYI, a lifestyle network with a contemporary twist (12). With high hopes for the new channel, their original show Married at First Sight fared well, setting records among both the FYI and Bio network brands, reaching 903,000 viewers during the season finale (13).
Devious Maids and Project Runway Soar
After finishing up season two this past summer as the number one cable show for its time slot for women 18-49, Lifetime has officially announced there will be a third season soon for Devious Maids (16). Project Runway also continues its legacy after finishing its 13th season finale in October and immediately rolling into a spin-off show, Project Runway: Threads, featuring teen designers (17).
Past Hits Continue On, Others Canceled
Two hits for the channel, Bates Motel and Duck Dynasty, were renewed for their third and seventh seasons respectively (19). Duck Dynasty’s season premiere launched November 19th, but many fans fear the show will be cancelled due to recent drops in ratings (20). On the other hand, this past fall, A&E cancelled their hit show, Longmire, to the shock of most fans as show was one of A&E’s most watched original dramas. Speculators believe the show was pulled as it appealed to too old an audience and A&E didn’t have a stake in the production as the show is produced by Time Warner (21).
A+E Purchases 10% Stake in Vice Media
This past fall, A+E Networks beat out Time Warner and purchased a 10% stake in Vice Media in exchange for $250 million. Vice Media is a digital news organization that targets the young male demographic through its informative website, YouTube Channel, and popular HBO-owned TV show, Vice. CEO, Nancy Dubuc managed the deal, stating it was a good move for the company as Vice Media’s demographic reach complimented A+E’s own History channel (25).
Carlton Cuse Signs First-Look Deal with A+E Studios
Famous producer and writer of popular shows such as Lost, The Strain, and A+E’s own Bates Motel, Carlton Cuse has just signed a “three-year first-look deal with A+E Studios,” the first ever production deal with a writer in the history of the network (27). The deal requires Cuse to work closely with A+E Studios EVP, Barry Jessen, to develop quality original content for the channel over the next three years (28).
History Channel Offers 1st Ever TV-Branded Online Course for Credit
On October 28th, History officially launched open enrollment for the first-ever TV-branded online course, United States 1865 to Present. The channel teamed up with University of Oklahoma to offer this unique and interactive course for transferrable credit and it will be taught by renowned OU professor and scholar-in-residence at the History Channel, Steve Gillon. The course is expected to use interactive video lectures, quizzes, and discussions all intermixed with History Channel content to strengthen and deepen one’s understanding of American history and will last for 16 weeks during Spring 2015 (29).
A+E Networks Named 2015 Company of Distinction at Banff World Media Festival
The Banff World Media Festival recently announced their decision to choose A+E Networks as their 2015 Company of Distinction to be honored at the festival from June 7-10, 2015 in Banff, Canada (31). The festival is a three day long conference bringing together top media leaders and companies internationally to discuss issues facing the industry and to serve as a platform for creative development, networking, and production (32). According the festival itself, the award is given to media companies “demonstrating significant leadership in the world of screen-based entertainment.” Previous winners of the award include CBS Corporation and Lionsgate Entertainment (31).
(1) “A+E Networks“, C21Media, RT: 11/30/14
(2) Abbe Raven, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(3) Nancy Dubuc, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(4) Robert DiBitetto, A+E Networks, RT:11/30/14
(5) A+E Television Networks, LLC Company Profile, Hoovers, RT: 11/30/14
(6) About Us, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/2014
(7) A & E Television Networks History, FundingUniverse, RT: 11/30/14
(8) “A+E at 30: How a Tiny Network Became a $26 Billion Success Story,” The Hollywood Reporter, 3/28/14, RT: 11/30/14
(9) HISTORY, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/2014
(10) “Houdini Mesmerizes 3.7 Million Viewers,” A+E Networks, 9/2/2014, RT: 11/30/14
(11) FYI, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/2014
(12) “Bio to Rebrand as FYI, a ‘Contemporary Lifestyle’ Network,” Adweek, 12/11/13, RT: 11/30/14
(13) “FYI’s ‘Married at First Sight’ Season One Finale Becomes Most-Watched Telecast in Network History,” A+E Networks, 9/10/14, RT: 11/30/14
(14) Married at First Sight, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(15) Lifetime, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(16) “Lifetime Renews Devious Maids for Third Season,” A+E Networks, 9/26/14, RT: 11/30/14
(17) “Lifetime’s All New Fashion Competition Series Project Runway: Threads, Tailor-Made for Teen Fashionistas, Premieres October 23,” A+E Networks, 9/16/14, RT: 11/30/14
(18) A&E, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(19) Recent News, A+E Networks, RT: 11/30/14
(20) “‘Duck Dynasty’ Cancelled? Willie Robertson Talks Ratings Drop, Duck Commander Plans,” Inquisitir, 8/21/14, RT: 11/30/14
(21) “Why TV Hit ‘Longmire’ Got Canceled: Fans Too Old,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/11/14, RT: 11/30/14
(22) “A&E’s ‘Bates Motel’ Renewed For Third Season,” Deadline, 4/7/14, RT: 11/30/14
(23) Duck Dynasty Logo, PopSugar, RT: 11/30/14
(24) “Vice Won an Emmy Award” Advice, 8/18/14, RT: 11/30/14
(25) “A+E Networks Outbids Time Warner For 10% Vice Media Stake,” Deadline, 8/29/14, RT: 11/30/14
(26) “Executive Producers of ‘Lost’ on Tap at NAB Show,” NAB, 2/14/2008, RT: 11/30/14
(27) “Cuse Signs First-Look Deal With A+E,” Broadcasting & Cable, 10/10/14, RT: 11/30/14
(28) “Carlton Cuse, A&E Sign First-Look Development Deal,” Variety
, 10/10/14, RT: 11/30/14
(29) “History Launches Online Course for Credit,” A+E Networks, 10/28/14, RT: 11/30/14
(30) “Banff World Media Festival Registration Open,” FILMbutton, 2/6/12, RT: 11/30/14
(31) “A+E Networks Named 2015 Company of Distinction at Banff World Media Festival,” A+E Networks, 10/15/14, RT: 11/30/14
(32) About the Banff World Media Festival, BANFF, RT: 11/30/14