A&E is an American basic cable network and the flagship television property of A&E Networks. The network was originally founded in 1984 as the Arts & Entertainment Network, initially focusing on fine arts, documentaries, dramas, and educational entertainment. Today, the network deals primarily in non-fiction programming, including reality docusoaps, true crime, documentaries, and miniseries.
|Broadcast area||United States|
|Headquarters||New York City, U.S.|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(480i letterboxed for the SDTV feed)
(Hearst Communications/The Walt Disney Company, formerly NBCUniversal (1984-2012))
|Launched||February 1, 1984|
|Replaced||Alpha Repertory Television Service|
The Entertainment Channel
|Service(s)||Philo, Sling TV, DirecTV Stream, Frndly TV, Vidgo, Hulu + Live TV|
As of July 2015[update], A&E is available to approximately 95,968,000 pay television households (82.4% of households with television) in the United States. The American version of the channel is being distributed in Canada while international versions were launched for Australia, Latin America, and Europe.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2018)
A&E launched on February 1, 1984, initially available to 9.3 million cable television homes in the U.S. and Canada. The network is a result of the 1984 merger of Hearst/ABC's Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) and (pre–General Electric merger) RCA-owned The Entertainment Channel.
It was originally available in two versions, one in an 8-hour version, which was to follow Nickelodeon on RCA Satcom III-R, the other was a full 20-hour version, on another satellite provider, the Westar V. In 1984, the signal split off from Nickelodeon, once A&E picked up its 20-hour signal on RCA Satcom III-R. In response, Nickelodeon launched its own nighttime block Nick at Nite to displace A&E on many signals.
By 1990, original programming accounted for 35 to 40 percent of A&E's content. Biography, a one-hour documentary series that was revived in 1987, was considered to be the network's signature show. In 1994, airings of Biography went from weekly broadcasts to airing five nights a week, which helped boost A&E's ratings to record levels. The nightly series became A&E's top-rated show and one of cable television's most notable successes. Biography received Primetime Emmy Awards in 1999 and 2002.
In May 1995, the channel's name officially changed to the A&E Network, to reflect its declining focus on arts and entertainment. The following year, the network had branded itself as simply A&E, using the slogans "Time Well Spent" and "Escape the Ordinary." "The word 'arts,' in regard to television, has associations such as 'sometimes elitist,' 'sometimes boring,' 'sometimes overly refined' and 'doesn't translate well to TV,'" Whitney Goit, executive vice president for sales and marketing, stated. "Even the arts patron often finds arts on TV not as satisfying as it should be ... And the word 'entertainment' is too vague. Therefore, much like ESPN uses its letters rather than what they stand for – Entertainment Sports (Programming) Network – we decided to go to just A&E." Of the network's tagline, Goit said, "Intellectually, 'Time well spent' defines a comparison between those who view a lot of television as a wasteland, and their acknowledgment that there are good things on TV and that they'd like to watch more thought-provoking TV."
A&E and Meridian Broadcasting commissioned Horatio Hornblower (1999), winner of two Primetime Emmy Awards, and the seven subsequent dramas in the series; Dash and Lilly (1999), which received nine Emmy nominations; and The Crossing (2000), which won the Peabody Award. The network created two original weekly drama series, Sidney Lumet's 100 Centre Street and Nero Wolfe, both of which lasted from 2001 to 2002.
In 2002, the contract for Law and Order had expired with the renewal asking price at four times the original per episode fee. Dropping that show allowed the channel to move to more "brand-defining scripted and nonfiction series." That same year, A&E would shift its focus toward reality television in order to attract a younger demographic and cancelled the network's two original scripted series. In May 2003, A&E launched a marketing campaign with the network's new tagline, "The Art of Entertainment." Between 2003 and 2007, the channel gradually retired several long-running series, moving several shows to The Biography Channel and introducing new reality programming.
The docudrama Flight 93, about the hijacking of the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania during the September 11 attacks, was the most watched program on the network; it attracted 5.9 million viewers for its initial telecast on January 30, 2006. This was later surpassed by Duck Dynasty's third season premiere. The previous record-holder for the network was a World War II docudrama, Ike: Countdown to D-Day, starring Tom Selleck and broadcast in 2004, with 5.5 million viewers. A&E later acquired rights to rerun the HBO series The Sopranos; its A&E premiere on January 10, 2007, averaged 3.86 million viewers, making it the most-watched premiere of a rerun off-network series in cable television history at the time. The series continued to perform well for A&E, and led the network to regularly rank in the top ten basic U.S. cable channels in prime time ratings.
On May 26, 2008, in conjunction with the premiere of the original film The Andromeda Strain, A&E rebranded with a new logo and slogan, Real Life. Drama., representing its shift to a more contemporary network with a focus on scripted programming. Additional shows in this major scripted push were drama series The Cleaner and The Beast, which both lasted two seasons. A&E ordered several dramas for Fall 2009, including projects from Jerry Bruckheimer, Shawn Ryan and Lynda Obst, and a Western miniseries from Kevin Costner.
On December 11, 2013, A&E unveiled a new on-air brand identity built around the slogan "Be Original", emphasizing the network's lineup of original productions and positioning it as a "much lighter, more fun place to come and spend time". The success of Duck Dynasty, Bates Motel and Storage Wars put A&E fourth in 2013 among cable channels in the key 18-to-49 age demographic.
On February 20, 2014, A&E Networks UK announced a UK version of the channel to launch on Sky channel 168 on March 24, with a Virgin Media launch date planned for next year. In Spain and Portugal, the channel was launched on October 1, 2014, replacing The Biography Channel in that market.
In 2015, A&E picked up the CBS drama Unforgettable for a fourth season as well as the second season of docuseries Married at First Sight, which will move from sister network FYI. The network also announced the revival of Intervention following its cancellation in 2013.
In October 2016, A&E premiered Live PD, a live series that followed U.S. police departments on patrol in real-time. The show would quickly garner commercial success; in 2018, a survey by Inscape found Live PD to be the most-watched program among non-live (DVR and VOD) and over-the-top viewers in 2018. Live PD was among the most-watched programs on cable television during its run and was credited for allowing A&E to reverse the trend of systematic viewership declines seen across cable television networks.
On January 19, 2017, A&E announced a reboot of Cold Case Files, over a decade after its final season premiered in 2006. A revival of the Biography franchise would also launch on June 28, 2017, with The Notorious Life of Biggie Smalls.
In June 2020, Live PD was cancelled by the network in the wake of the 2020 race riots and after reports were confirmed that the show's production staff had recorded and then deleted footage of the killing of Javier Ambler under police custody. A&E over-reliance on the series to fill its schedule resulted in the network losing half of its audience; up until that point, A&E's primetime viewership had been up by 4% year-over-year.
In 2021, A&E began a partnership with the professional wrestling promotion WWE to develop original content chronicling the company's history and performers, including eight episodes of Biography focusing on WWE figures, and WWE's Most Wanted Treasures—a series following Stephanie McMahon and Triple H in their search of wrestling memorabilia. Most Wanted Treasures was A&E's most-watched new series in 2021, while the premiere of a Biography episode on Stone Cold Steve Austin attracted the franchise's highest viewership in 16 years. In 2022, WWE and A&E announced a 24-episode renewal for Most Wanted Treasures, an additional 35 Biography: WWE Legends episodes, and the new series WWE Rivals.
Notable original series seen on A&E have included Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, Breakfast with the Arts, The First 48, Duck Dynasty, Intervention, Live PD, Storage Wars, and Wahlburgers.
Original and co-produced movies and miniseries edit
- Pride and Prejudice (1995)
- Emma (1996)
- Jane Eyre (1997)
- The Pale Horse (1997)
- The Ebb-Tide (1998)
- Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1998)
- Hornblower (1998–2003)
- Vanity Fair (1998)
- Murder in a Small Town (1999)
- The Lady in Question (1999)
- P.T. Barnum (1999)
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999)
- Small Vices (1999)
- The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000)
- The Great Gatsby (2000)
- Longitude (2000)
- Lorna Doone (2000)
- Thin Air (2000)
- The Lost Battalion (2001)
- The Lost World (2001)
- Victoria & Albert (2001)
- Walking Shadow (2001)
- Lathe of Heaven (2002)
- The Magnificent Ambersons (2002)
- Napoléon (2002)
- Shackleton (2002)
- Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003)
- Murderball (2005)
- Jesus Camp (2006)
- My Kid Could Paint That (2007)
- Cartel Land (2015)
- Life, Animated (2016)
Criticism and controversy edit
Secrets of Playboy edit
Beginning in January 2022, A&E broadcast a 12-part series entitled "Secrets of Playboy." This included allegations that Hugh Hefner himself had committed rape and sexual assault. The show also included claims that other men in the Playboy orbit, such as Bill Cosby, had committed rape. One of the women coming forward was Sondra Theodore, Hefner's girlfriend in the late 1970s and early '80s. She stated that many people in fact believed the reports and accusations, but tended to blame the women anyway because of the reputation of the Playboy Mansion, even though Playboy tried to put forward a healthy "Girl Next Door" attitude. This A&E series also include claims by Dr. Mark Saginor’s estranged daughter, by Theodore, and by former butler Mitch Rosen that the doctor was not only Hefner’s live-in physician, but also his male lover. Dr. Saginor said this was not the case.
Some Playboy employees signed a statement which read: “ . . Our time within Hugh Hefner's Playboy and the organization's subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of. I proudly sign this letter in recognition of Hugh Hefner's character amid unfounded allegations in the A&E show.” In response, A&E issued a statement which read: “The stories shared in Secrets of Playboy are the personal experiences of the documentary's participants and deserve to be told despite how difficult they may be for some to hear. Signatures on a letter, or a different experience with Mr. Hefner or the Playboy culture, do not negate the experiences of those who have come forward . . ”
Duck Dynasty edit
On December 19, 2013, A&E attempted to place Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty on an indefinite hiatus following remarks on homosexuals in an interview with GQ. A&E said in a statement, "We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community." On December 27, 2013, A&E announced they would begin filming again with the entire Robertson family after an outcry from show viewers and discussions with the Robertson family and numerous advocacy groups, a decision which itself resulted in more criticism of the network for refusing to stand by its original statement.
Nero Wolfe edit
Earlier, A&E had been criticized for extreme channel drift from its original focus on the fine arts. For example, Maury Chaykin reflected on the cancellation of the A&E original series A Nero Wolfe Mystery in a 2008 interview: "I'm a bit jaded and cynical about which shows succeed on television. I worked on a fantastic show once called Nero Wolfe, but at the time A&E was transforming from the premiere intellectual cable network in America to one that airs Dog the Bounty Hunter on repeat, so it was never promoted and eventually went off the air."
- "List of how many homes each cable network is in as of July 2015". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. July 21, 2015. Archived from the original on January 2, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Parisi, Paula, "New look bows A&E's 2nd 10"; The Hollywood Reporter, December 29, 1993
- "Freud, Warts and All, Sits for the Camera". The New York Times. January 20, 1985. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
- "Showtime purchases Spotlight" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 19, 1983. p. 37. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- "Cablecastings" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 10, 1984. p. 11. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- "What to look forward to on cable" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 10, 1985. p. 95. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 30, 2023. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- "KSL Channel 5 TV". TV Entertainment Magazine. KSL. 1 July 1986.
- Brown, Steven (24 July 1986). "Roll over, Chopin - music video takes cue from MTV". Article. The Orlando Sentinel.
- Ulrich, Allan (23 July 1986). "Get ready for Chopin on Video". Article. The San Francisco Examiner.
- Hoover's Company Records, July 12, 2011
- Gay, Verne (Newsday), "Biography: Top Show on Cable's A&E Network"; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 1996
- Block, Alex Ben (March 28, 2014). "A+E at 30: How a Tiny Network Became a $26 Billion Success Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 8, 2020. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Carmody, John, "The TV Column"; The Washington Post, May 2, 1995. "The Arts & Entertainment cable network has officially changed its name to A&E Network."
- de Moraes, Lisa (May 9, 2008). "On TV". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- Ross, Chuck, "Cable Marketer of the Year: A&E"; Advertising Age, December 8, 1997
- Andreeva, Nellie (April 27, 2017). "A&E Doubles Down On Nonfiction, Exits Scripted In Programming Strategy Shift". Deadline. Penske Business Media, LLC. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
- Salamon, Julie (June 22, 2004). "When Group Therapy Means Coming Clean on TV". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
Two years ago Nick Davatzes, president and chief executive of A&E Television Networks, called his executives to a retreat, to 'wallow in the mud,' as he described the exercise. From that wallowing emerged an overhaul in management and outlook, including the conclusion that reality television could not be ignored if the network wanted younger viewers.
- Friedman, Wayne, "Strategy shift: A&E focuses on entertainment"; Advertising Age, May 5, 2003
- "A&E: Biography". A&E Television Networks. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. Retrieved August 1, 2007.
- Flaherty, Mike (January 16, 2009). "A&E IndieFilms taps Molly Thompson". Variety. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Cox, Gordon (April 12, 2016). "A&E IndieFilms Thrives After Decade of Backing Steady Stream of Quality Docs". Variety. Archived from the original on July 25, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Steve Rosenbaum (February 1, 2006). ""Flight 93" Breaks A&E Records". Docu-Blog/Steve's POV. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved September 30, 2006.
- Anthony Crupi (January 15, 2007). "Time to Collect: A&E's Sopranos Bet Pays Off". Mediaweek.com. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2007.
- Fitzgerald, Toni (February 14, 2007). "True grit: Remaking the A&E network". MediaLifeMagazine. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
- "MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines". Archived from the original on 2006-02-26. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Rose, Lacey (October 9, 2013). "A&E Unveils New 'Be Original' Tagline as Part of Rebranding". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 16, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- "A&E Orders Bruckheimer Pilot; Renews Nine Shows". The Live Feed. May 12, 2009. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2009.
- Kondolojy, Amanda (October 9, 2013). "A&E Network to Unveil New Network Identity Across All Platforms". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on January 19, 2015.
- "A&E Unveils New Logo, Tagline". Deadline Hollywood. October 9, 2013. Archived from the original on March 21, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
- "A&E, el canal factual de televisión líder en EEUU, llega por primera vez a España". Archived from the original on 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2015-01-19.
- "'Unforgettable' To Be Resurrected Again With Season 4 Order At A&E". Archived from the original on August 16, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- "A&E's Emmy-Award winning and critically-acclaimed docuseries, "Intervention", returns to the network..." A&E (Press release). January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-01-30. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (2018-09-21). "'Live PD' Docuseries Gets Order For 150 Additional Episodes From A&E". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2019-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- Hayes, Dade (2018-12-28). "'Live PD' Is Most-Viewed Show Of 2018 On OTT, VOD And DVR – Survey". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2019-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- Littleton, Cynthia (November 20, 2019). "With Shows Like 'Live PD,' Paul Buccieri Brings A+E Networks Back to Its Roots". Variety. Archived from the original on January 21, 2020. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- Petski, Denise (January 19, 2017). "'Cold Case Files' True Crime Series Getting Reboot On A&E". Deadline. Archived from the original on February 1, 2021. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Plohetski, Claire Osborn and Tony. "'Live PD' says it destroyed video of Javier Ambler II's death during 2019 Texas police stop". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 2020-07-26. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
- Schneider, Michael (2020-06-11). "'Live PD': Inside A&E's Swift Decision to Cancel the Show, and Whether it Will Ever Return". Variety. Archived from the original on 2020-06-14. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
- Flint, Joe (24 July 2020). "A&E Has Lost Half Its Viewers Since Dropping 'Live PD' Network's prime-time viewership was up 4% this year before it canceled its hit police reality show, Nielsen data show". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
- "WWE Partners With A&E For 2 TV Series". Barrett Media. 2021-02-24. Archived from the original on 2022-03-02. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
- Hayes, Dade (2022-03-01). "A&E And WWE Deepen Original Programming Ties, With 35 More 'Biography' Installments, New Series 'WWE Rivals'". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2022-03-01. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
- Hayes, Dade (2022-06-01). "WWE And A&E Set Details Of Weekly Programming Block, Kicking Off With New 'Biography' Season". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2023-01-29. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
- Becker, Anne, "A&E Slates New Music Show; Intimate 'Sessions' aimed at mainstream tastes" Archived 2013-03-08 at the Wayback Machine; Broadcasting and Cable, July 15, 2007
- "TV stokes desperate hunger for fame". CNN. November 30, 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- The most appalling allegations in A&E’s Hugh Hefner docuseries ‘Secrets of Playboy' Archived 2023-05-31 at the Wayback Machine, USA Today, Maria Puente, " . . comprises 12 hours of people talking about Hefner and the Playboy empire he created. And in none-too-flattering terms. . ," Feb. 7, 2022
- Former Playboy employees and Playmates defend Hugh Hefner amid 'Secrets of Playboy' series Archived 2023-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, CNN, Marianne Garvey, Feb. 2, 2022.
- "In the Wake of Longmire's Cancellation, What's Next for A&E?". Archived from the original on 2014-09-19. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "'Longmire' Series Cancellation: A&E Defends Decision To Drop Popular Crime Drama, Writer Tells Networks Not To 'Write Off' The Over 50 Crowd". Enstars. September 19, 2014. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
- Goldberg, Lesley (December 18, 2013). "'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson on Indefinite Hiatus Following Anti-Gay Remarks". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- "'Duck Dynasty' patriarch Phil Robertson suspended over anti-gay comments". Chicago Tribune Company. December 18, 2013. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Marechal, AJ (December 18, 2013). "'Duck Dynasty': Phil Robertson Suspended Indefinitely Following Anti-Gay Remarks". Variety. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Hibberd, James (December 20, 2013). "'Duck Dynasty' star suspended for anti-gay comments". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Patrick Kevin Day (December 18, 2013). "A&E puts 'Duck Dynasty' star on hiatus following anti-gay comments". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Aaron Parsley; Mary Green (December 18, 2013). "A&E Suspends Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Following Anti-Gay Comments". People Magazine. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- "'Duck Dynasty' to resume filming with Phil Robertson after A&E lifts ban". Fox News. 2013-12-28. Archived from the original on 2013-12-28. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
- Farquharson, Vanessa, "Whole lot of Chaykin going on"; National Post, August 21, 2008. "After some initial advertising for the April second season premiere, A&E stopped publicizing the show," Scarlet Street magazine (No. 46, p. 20) reported in late 2002.