There is another top level executive change at A+E Networks: FYI and LMN president Jana Bennett has been promoted to President and General Manager of History. Bennett replaces Dirk Hoogstra, who will return to independent producing. Word is that Hoogstra, who has been passionate about scripted TV, is leaving on good terms and would join a production company later this year. Search for Bennett’s replacement at FYI and LMN will begin immediately. Bennett will report to Paul Buccieri, who joined late last year as President of A&E and History. Bennett has been at A+E Networks for two years. The respected executive was brought in two years ago to spearhead the transformation of BIO into lifestyle brand FIY.
“Jana has one of the strongest track records building and shaping global brands – first at the BBC and now here at A+E Networks,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO of A+E Networks. “She joined our company with the mandate to take our networks into new and exciting places and what she’s done with FYI in such a short amount of time is remarkable.”
Added Buccieri, “Jana’s vast experience in all genres of programming, marketing, distribution and digital is unparalleled and I’m very much looking forward to working with her at History.” Buccieri thanked Hoogstra for his contributions to History. “He was the force behind some of the network’s greatest successes that helped propel History to become one of entertainment’s top brands.”
One year since its relaunch as FYI, under Bennett the network has posted double-digit ratings growth, fueled by new original series such as Married at First Sight, Arranged, Seven Year Switch, Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunting and Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown. FYI has also become the number one upscale entertainment network on ad-supported cable, while 1Q15 and 2Q15 are the network’s best quarters since its re-brand among Adults 25-54.
Bennett also spearheaded the reinvention of the LMN brand, introducing original unscripted series to the lineup, including Escaping Polygamy, I Love You But I Lied and Monster In My Family. As a result, year-to-date LMN is up in every day part versus a year ago among Women 25-54 and claims its youngest median age since 2006.
The changeover at History follows a similar shakeup at A&E earlier this year, with another top Dubuc lieutenant, Rob Sharenow, replacing David McKillop. While A&E has been struggling in the ratings, History has been in good shape, adding two more promising unscripted shows this summer with Alone and Forged In Fire. He also just put together the high-profile Roots miniseries, which landed big-name actors, directors and producers. Hoogstra’s exit is believed to be prompted by his desire to return to being a producer.
Hoogstra was named general manger of History and H2 in 2013. He was previously EVP, Development and Programming for the networks. He joined History in 2007 as VP and was named SVP development and programming in 2010. In addition to achieving ratings success at both nets, Hoogstra led History into scripted programming with the highly rated Hatfields & McCoy and The Bible miniseries and Vikings series.