A+E Networks is posed to take full ownership of A+E Networks Germany, following a 12-year joint venture in the region with NBCUniversal International.
The move, says Sean Cohan (pictured), A+E president of international & digital, is a natural fit for the company. “We tend to want to grow and own more where it makes sense,” Cohan tells realscreen. With a strong local economy, an innovative market, and large clusters of homes, he believes German-speaking areas in Europe present a good opportunity for the company moving forward.
A+E Networks Germany operates History and A&E in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Alto Adige (an Italian region bordering on Switzerland and Austria) and Liechtenstein. Both channels have full distribution on cable and satellite platforms in the markets.
The acquisition – which remains subject to regulatory approval – reinforces A+E’s international strategy to take a greater ownership position in its ventures around the world. According to Cohan, the deal has been “a long time in the making.”
Cohan says A+E has a decent track record in recognizing business opportunities as they come, noting that the company’s peers have gone at the international growth game “a little bit differently.”
“There’s something to be said about having a partner not only at the beginning, but also today,” he says, adding that there are benefits to owning your own destiny. And having full ownership means really being able to be in the “driver’s seat”, and going forward, gaining full ownership of A+E Networks Germany will mean having the speed and ability to make more unilateral decisions, particularly when it comes to launching new brands and making more investment and local initiatives.
A+E Networks Germany joins wholly owned and majority-owned A+E entities, including Southeast Asia, Italy, Japan, and most recently, Korea, which is set to launch this fall.
NBCU International is expected to continue to provide key services to A+E in German-speaking Europe, over the coming years.
Patrick Vien, A+E Networks executive managing director, international, says that after having built a business for 13 years, the two companies are quite familiar with each other’s operations. NBCU International will continue to provide management services, which Cohan says will be of an administrative, operations and technical nature.
While details of the company’s programming schedule weren’t revealed, Vien says it is “indisputable” in the marketplace how much localization is playing a role in maintaining and building audiences.
Cohan adds that he sees A+E Networks Germany as acting as another testing environment for the company, not only from a creative standpoint, but also from a business and technology perspective, as it sits across a global portfolio.
“In a big market like this, you try to cross-pollinate wherever you can,” he says.
In Germany, History is a top-ranked factual channel, according to data provided by the global media company. Both channels are home to award-winning, local productions, along with shows and series such as The Eleventh Day, The Liberators, The Legion, Ruin Hunters or Guardians of Heritage (premiering in November 2017).
A+E Networks Germany also recently developed the local crime series Protocols of Evil, a true crime show that looks into the soul of serial killers.