A+E Networks has cemented its position on the market with internationally recognisable brands including A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel, established over more than 35 years.
A joint venture of Hearst Communications and the Walt Disney Company, its portfolio spans scripted division A+E Studios and unscripted units Six West and Category 6, with channel and programming in more than 200 territories in 41 languages.
The catalogue is vast, exceeding 40,000 hours, and continues to increase the library by producing around 1,600 hours of programming per year encompassing crime, paranormal, biographies, lifestyle, core history, mysteries, factual entertainment, premium documentaries, and original TV movies and scripted series.
It also hosts growing global formats and co-production divisions in both factual and scripted, with the former scoring sales for canine competition Top Dog, relationship series Generation Dating, and survival competition show Alone.
A recent success for its co-production division was period drama Miss Scarlet And The Duke, which aired on Alibi in the UK and PBS Masterpiece in the US, propelling the latter to the number two spot behind CBS on Super Bowl Sunday.
As the international distribution market abandoned travel and physical markets due to the virus crisis of 2020, A+E moved to counter this impact, according to Steve MacDonald, A+E Networks’ president of global content licensing and international.
“A major goal for the global content sales team going into 2021 was to optimise our content and get it out to our buyers via a premium, best-in-class sales site,” he says. “We sell our library content to a variety of clients: linear, non-linear, SVoD, AVoD, short-form. And the way we pitch and sell is very targeted. We listen to the needs of our clients and are able to fill their needs creatively across platforms.”
Despite ongoing challenges, production has continued and A+E Networks were “fortunate to be wrapped on many projects prior to and during lockdown”, ensuring its pipeline was not impacted.
“Key to our success was our nimbleness, our ability to change course and be spry throughout the process as needed; we returned to production as quickly as we could following all safety protocols,” he adds.
Looking ahead, A+E’s reputation as “premium hit-makers” in factual has resulted in numerous projects fronted by A-list Hollywood talent including Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman, who are presenting new series History’s Greatest Mysteries and Great Escapes, respectively.
Competition format Assembly Required, fronted by Home Improvement stars Tim Allen and Richard Karn, is the latest addition to the slate. The Spoke Studios-produced series, airing on Sky History in the UK, will showcase the best and brightest builders from across the US who compete to breathe new life into everyday household items from their home workshops.
Elsewhere, Star Trek’s William Shatner returns for a new run of his History Channel returner The UnXplained.
MacDonald says A+E’s formats are also succeeding on its international channels. In Latin America, Spanish-language adaptations of Shatner’s series and metalwork competition Forged in Fire are prospering in the region.