A&E Networks (branded as A+E Networks) is an American media company that owns a group of television channels available via cable & satellite in the U.S. and abroad. A&E stands for Arts & Entertainment. The company is a joint venture with Hearst Communications and Disney–ABC Television Group, a unit of The Walt Disney Company.
Arts and Entertainment
A&E was formed from the merger of the Alpha Repertory Television Service and the Entertainment Channel, a premium cable channel, in 1984 with their respective owners keeping stakes in the new company. Thus A&E's shareholders were Hearst & ABC (from ARTS) and Radio City Music Hall (Rockefeller Group) and RCA, then the parent of NBC (from Entertainment Channel). The company launched Arts & Entertainment Network, a cultural cable channel, on February 1, 1984.
In fall 1987, A&E began showing the 1960s series, 'Biography' once-a-week in prime-time, which led the network to purchase the Biography trademark and library and order the commissioning of new 'Biography' episodes beginning in 1990. In 1991, the company launched the A&E Monthly general entertainment magazine, which had a program guide.
The company indicated that plans for a history channel were in the works in 1993 and purchased the Lou Reda Productions documentary library and long term rights for the Hearst Entertainment documentaries archive. In June 1993, the Rockefeller Group's Radio City Music Hall sold its 12.5% stake in A&E to the other three partners (now including NBC in place of RCA after GE's purchase of the latter in 1986) with NBC owning 25% and the other two 37.5% each. Also that month, a new production unit was set up.
The A&E channel expanded to Canada, and later Mexico from 1993 to 1994. 'Biography' began airing 5 nights a week in 1994. Also in 1994, A&E, on its 10th anniversary, changed its name from Arts and Entertainment to A&E.
The A&E company launched The History Channel (THC) on January 1, 1995, with its U.K. counterpart following on November 1 in partnership with British Sky Broadcasting. A&E Networks considered THC to be the driver in international expansion due to lack of international rights to A&E international co-productions. As expected, the History Channel led A&E's overseas expansion in Brazil with TVA (April 1996), the Nordic and Baltic regions with Modern Times Group (1997) and in Canada (1997).
Formerly only direct sales, A&E Home Video initiated a six-month trial in which Barnes & Noble would sell the "Biography" line in stores and becoming permanent in 1996. THC debuted in two other media in September 1996 with a program on ABC Radio Networks and Border Books stocking THC videos.
The 'Biography' franchise continued to expand with a website in July 1996, a children's version launched in fall 1996, an audio tape line in 1997, telefilm development, a Crown published short biography line and debuted its magazine which replaced A&E Monthly. During the 1998-1999 season, "Biography: American Justice" and "Biography Movies" debuted.
THC expanded in 1998 into tours of U.S. landmarks with Mayflower Tours having an affiliated website (historytravel.com), a show "History Channel Traveler", and a planned quarterly magazine. While in October, THC and Madison Square Garden Network teamed up to produce several short-form sports history programs.
A+E spun out its first two digital cable channels in November 1998 with The Biography Channel and History Channel International from A&E and The History Channel. A&E was spending $10 million per year to convert to the digital format and for digital distribution.
Post-Lifetime Entertainment merger
In August 2009, A&E TV Networks acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services, which at the time was jointly owned by Disney and Hearst, each with 50% ownership. Following the deal, Disney and Hearst each held approximately 42% of the combined company, while NBC Universal retained approximately 16%. The deal included mechanisms by which NBCU could choose, or alternatively be forced to, exit the partnership over the subsequent 15 years. AETN and Network 18 Group In August 2010 formed a joint venture (49/51%), AETN-18 India, which would first launch the History and Bio channels in India. In May 2011, A&E Television Networks changed its brand name to A+E Networks. A&E dropped TV as their brands had move beyond just the TV channel, while keeping Networks being contemporary to similar companies.
In July 2012, NBCUniversal confirmed plans to divest its 15.8% stake in A+E Networks by way of a share repurchase by A+E, making Disney and Hearst 50-50 partners in the joint venture. In August 2012, A+E switched distribution for their original series and movies from New Video Group to Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
The Bio channel has been stagnating since before A+E's 2013 upfront presentation as little focus was placed upon it. For 2013, Bio was generating 12 cents per subscribers from the video providers which is half the industry average. After tweaking the three main A+E channels' focus, Bio averaged viewers of 91,000 adults 25-54 in prime compared to what A&E (716,000) and History (703,000) averaged over the same period.
With an early June 2013 promotion to A&E Networks CEO, Nancy Dubuc launched a new in-house production unit, A&E Studios, and created three new executive vice president and general managers to manage History/H2, A&E and Lifetime and a president for Bio and LMN. Dubic's priority was to revamp or turn around the various channels. With the Bio/LMN president Jana Bennett having changed TLC from a learning to a lifestyle programming was considered an indication that adding a lifestyle channel to the A+E portfolio was a possibility. An additional opening in the genre occurred as the Style channel became the men's channel, Esquire Network. Also not all international Bio channels or platforms will switch over to the FYI programming (for example, Bio. was rebranded as Lifetime in the UK and Latin America and as A&E in Europe and Africa). In July 2013, A+E Networks bought out Astro Overseas's stake in AETN All Asia Networks and renamed it to A+E Networks Asia.
On December 8 & 9, 2013, three A+E channels, Lifetime, A&E and History, simulcasted Bonnie & Clyde miniseries with each pulling in 3-3.7 million viewers for the first night for a total of 9.8 million viewers with Nielsen's SocialGuide rank it the most talked about non-sports subject and topped Google Trends.
A+E Networks formed A+E Networks Italy based in Rome by December 2013. As A&E Italy on December 16, 2013, would launch Crime & Investigation channel via Sky Italy. In early 2004, A&E Italy took full ownership of History Italy from A&E's partner, Fox International Channels.
In August 2014, A+E took a 10% stake in Vice Media for $250 million. The company then announced in April 2015 that H2 would be rebranded into a Vice channel with an indicated early 2016 launch. Director Spike Jonze, Vice's creative director, is overseeing the development of the new 24-hour channel. Disney also made direct investment in Vice Media with two $200 investments in November 2015 then a week later in December for about a direct 10% to assist in funding programming.
- A+E Networks Consumer Products
- A&E Studios
- A&E IndieFilms, documentary feature film division
- A&E Films
- A&E Networks Digital
A+E Networks own and operate 3 cable networks with eleven television channels:
- A&E Network
- History Network
- Lifetime Entertainment Services
A&E Studios (stylized as A+E Studios) is the company's in house scripted production division.
A&E Networks formed the studio in June 2013 under president Bob DeBitetto. At MIPCOM in October 2014, International executive vice president Sean Cohan and DeBitetto launched A&E Studios International as a distribution and financing unit to distribution A&E Studios productions.
A+E Networks International
A+E Networks International is the international division of A+E Networks, which handles international operations outside the U.S., mostly through joint ventures. A&E is an associate member of: the Caribbean Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Caribbean Cable Cooperative.
A+E Networks Latin America
A+E Networks Latin America is a joint venture between A+E Networks International and Ole Communications. The company started in 1996 when A&E expanded into Latin America as Mundo Olé, a joint venture between A&E Television Networks and HBO Latin America Group with the Biography series. In 2000, the word Olé was dropped, causing Mundo Olé to become Mundo. The next year, Mundo was renamed to A&E Mundo but continued airing the Biography series. The channel was renamed once more as A&E in 2005. Back in 1992, History Latin America was launched as TVQuality. It continued to use that name until 2000, when it became The History Channel. From 2008, it is still History since then. The Biography Channel was launched in Latin America in 2007; however, when the US Bio. network became FYI in 2014, The Latin American network is now H2 since then. Thus, Lifetime Latin America was launched at the start of July 2014 as a joint venture between A+E Networks Latin America and Sony Pictures Television Latin America, replacing Sony Spin, a Sony-owned Latin American cable network that was formerly known as Locomotion from 1996 to 2005 and then Animax from 2005 to 2011. Now, A+E Networks Latin America and their subsidiaries continue to operate across Latin America.
A+E Networks UK
A+E Networks UK is a joint venture between A&E Television Networks (UK) Ltd, in conjunction with BSkyB History Ltd, a unit of Sky plc (Sky Europe). A+E Networks UK continues to operate in Europe, as well as Africa. Their networks include Blaze (FTA), the European and African versions of Crime & Investigation Network, History, H2 and Lifetime. Most of the channels are available on BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin.
- Crime & Investigation Network: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia, South Africa, United Kingdom
- History: Arabia, Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom
- H2: Arabia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Poland, Romania (will be launched in January 2018), Serbia, Sweden, United Kingdom
- Lifetime: Angola, Poland, Romania (will be launched in January 2018), South Africa, United Kingdom
The History Channel UK began as a joint venture of A&E Networks (the company's first international JV) and British Sky Broadcasting to launch The History Channel UK on November 1, 1995, as a part-time channel broadcasting from 3 PM to 7 PM with plans to go full-time in 1996 or 1997 when its digital transponder was launched. The three original programs, "History Alive," "Our Century," and "Biography", were British hosted and tailored.
The joint venture expanded with the launching of Military History channel in July 2008. Soon thereafter, The History Channel was rebranded to History. Crime and Investigation and Bio launched in HD on Sky on 5 November 2008. The History Channel UK joint venture was renamed to AETN UK On July 2, 2009.
AETN UK joint venture, following the A&E post-Lifetime merger branding, was rebranded as A+E Networks UK on September 22, 2011. A+E UK launched Lifetime for UK and Ireland market in November 2013. In Turkey, the Lifetime channel was launched over the air in April 2016. On September 20, 2016, A+E UK launched Blaze, its global free to air channel, in the British Isles, its first market, on Sky and Freeview.
A+E Networks Germany
After a joint venture with NBCUniversal International from 2005 to 2017, the US parent company decided in June 2017 to take over 100 percent of its German spin-off based in Munich. A+E Networks Germany operates the two pay TV channels History and A&E in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol. The company also operated The Biography Channel Germany from 31 March 2007 until 22 September 2014 which was then replaced by A+E Germany.
A+E Networks Asia
A+E Networks Asia is the Asian branch of A+E Networks International operating six channels and is headquartered in Singapore with an additional operation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Their divisions include A+E Networks India.
AETN All Asia Networks (AAAN) was formed on April 2007 through a joint venture between A&E Television Networks and Malaysia's pay TV provider Astro Overseas Limited to serve in the Southeast Asian, Hong Kong and Taiwanese markets. History and Crime & Investigation Network were launched in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Brunei on June 15, 2007, with the History Channel only in Thailand. A December launch was expected for the Philippines. In 2008, AAAN planned to launch the Biography Channel.
In 2009, AETN Asia Networks struck a US$800,000 co-production deal with the National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia to co-produce programs to be featured across its channels. It has recently hired SPE Networks as a regional ad sales representative across the South East Asian region.
A+E Networks India
Formerly known as AETN-18 India, a joint venture between Network 18 Group, A+E Networks India is the Indian branch of A+E Networks Asia that operates around South Asia (the region India belongs to).
A+E Networks Home Entertainment
A+E Networks Home Entertainment is the home entertainment division of A+E Networks. It creates and distributes content from A+E Networks' channels included A&E, Biography & History branded products. It also distributes content it has acquired the rights to including hit American TV series, British comedies, cult TV and sports programming.
- ESPN Inc., which has the same ownership partners as A+E Networks