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The game of musical chairs continues at A+E.
History and H2 general manager Dirk Hoogstra is out, and FYI and LMN head Jana Bennett is trading in her pair of networks for his. In Bennett’s new role as History President and GM, she’ll be tasked with overseeing programming, marketing and strategy.
As part of the shakeup, Hoogstra is expected to return to his roots in the world of independent producing. His exit comes roughly seven months after David McKillop was pushed out at A&E, another top network in the A+E portfolio that has taken a beating in recent months. Bennett will now report to Paul Buccieri, and the company will look for someone to fill her role at smaller networks FYI and LMN.
It’s a big vote of confidence in Bennett, who joined the company from the BBC in 2013. Though History has seen its ratings slide, it remains a top-tier cable network with the ability to draw a sizable audience (Hatfields & McCoys, The Bible) and established talent, including new hire Craig Ferguson. Hoogstra, who was a key architect for the net’s push into scripted with programming including Vikings, has been candid about the challenges of both the landscape and his network.
“Jana has one of the strongest track records building and shaping global brands — first at the BBC and now here at 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,” said A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, with Buccieri adding, “Her 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.”
In her short time at FYI, which launched in July of 2014, Bennett has already generated double-digit ratings growth, thanks to a slate that includes Seven Year Switch, Tiny House Nation and Married at First Sight. The latter performed so well it was added to A&E’s schedule, where it’s drawn sizable numbers as well. Bennett has also spearheaded a reinvention at still-niche LMN, which has seen its median age drop to its lowest since 2006 care of such new unscripted series as Escaping Polygamy, I Love You But I Lied and Monster In My Family.
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