"The transition to FYI is the next phase in our strategy to bolster the A+E Networks portfolio by evolving and maturing our brands to allow for future growth in the rapidly changing media landscape," said Dubuc in a prepared statement. "FYI will be an upscale network with a younger and more modern sensibility than what we've seen on traditional lifestyle networks, in an effort to appeal to an audience that has been underserved on linear but thrives online."
But executives may see a new opportunity. FYI is expected to lure a more upscale viewer and the company may see more room for growth in that demographic than it did for viewers of signature Bio programs such as "Celebrity Ghost Stories," "The Haunting Of..." or "Citizen Hearst," a documentary about William Randolph Hearst the network ran last April. The company said the Bio name would "continue to exist on various platforms throughout the United States," while details about international networks running Bio programs would be released "market by market."
The decision to shutter Bio comes as the company's flagship outlets, A&E and History are top-tier cablers and its female-focused Lifetime is seeing audience growth. H2, an emerging network in the portfolio, is also building. Yet among rival non-fiction programmers, such as Discovery Communications, Discovery ID has had a rocketship ride over the last two years, which may have prompted A+E executives to consider whether investing in new content for Bio made sense when other opportunities to grow a different audience lay in the offing.
A+E said FYI is in "active development" on more than 30 potential new series , details of which would be made in 2014. The network "is approaching availability in 70 million homes," the company said. Jana Bennett, a former BBC executive tapped by Dubuc in June to run both Bio and Lifetime Movie Network will continue in that role, supervising the new network rather than the old one.
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