It’s the end of the road for thriller, suspense and horror-themed FEARnet. Comcast has bought out its partners in the joint venture — Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment — to take 100% ownership. Following the transaction, which closed this morning, FEARnet will no longer be a stand-alone brand but will be folded into Comcast’s NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment division. “NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment has acquired all remaining interests in FEARnet from its productive venture with Lionsgate and Sony,” the company said in a statement to Deadline through a spokesman. “FEARnet, along with its popular content, will be integrated into NBCU Cable Entertainment. This process will take place over a yet to be determined period of time.”
FEARnet is expected to be folded mainly into Comcast/NBCU Cable Entertainment’s similarly thriller, suspense and horror-focused Chiller, though some content could also migrate to Syfy. I’ve learned that 10 of FEARnet’s 25 employees will stay on through the transition. The other 15 are being let go today. NBCU would try to find job opportunities for some of them across the company. FEARnet president Peter Block will stay at least through the transition.
FEARnet, a cable channel, website, and VOD service, was launched on Halloween 2006 as a three-way partnership between Comcast, Lionsgate and Sony, each of them owning a third. Four months later, NBCUniversal launched its own horror-focused digital cable network Chiller, which became part of Comcast’s portfolio via the company’s 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, which also included sci-fi network Syfy. While Comcast, Lionsgate and Sony worked together for more than seven years to build the FEARnet brand, I hear Lionsgate and Sony ultimately opted to monetize their minority stakes in what had been a noncore asset for them rather than continuing.