Jana-bennet

History Channel’s Jana Bennett to Exit

by Cate Lecuyer Marian  |  05.05.2017

History President and General Manager Jana Bennett is stepping down from the post to pursue her own London- and New York-based production company.

A search is underay for her replacement, and History’s SVP of Programming Paul Cabana will oversee the channel in the meantime.

The U.K. native has led History since 2015, and has been with parent company A+E Networks for the past four years.

“This spring, Jana came to me and told me that she wanted to split her time between London and NY and start a new entrepreneurial venture aimed at creating the best of British and American content for both markets,” A+E CEO Nancy Dubuc said in a message to employees announcing Bennett’s departure.

Dubuc recruited Bennett in 2013 to lead the successful rebrand of A+E’s Bio into FYI Network, spearheading new original series such as Married at First Sight, Arranged, Seven Year Swith, Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunting and Man Vs. Child, Chef Showdown.

She also helped manage Lifetime Movie Networks at the time, introducing original unscripted series including Escaping Polygamy, I Love You But I Lied and Monster in my Family.

Both networks showed growth under her leadership, and she joined History in 2015, replacing Dirk Hoogstra in the middle of a ratings decline.

During her at time at History, the network strengthened its unscripted slate with series such as The Curse of Oak Island and Alone, and expanded it’s scripted programming with Vikings and this year’s military drama Six, which was recently renewed for a second season, and upcoming Knightfall.

History is now A+E Networks’ top-rated channel, with an 8 percent year-over-year increase in 25-54-year-old viewers in the first quarter of 2017.

“Now that History is back to growth, it’s time for me to start my next chapter,” Bennet said in a note to colleagues.

Read Dubec’s note to staff:

Nearly four years ago, Jana Bennett moved from London and joined A+E Networks to launch FYI. This spring, Jana came to me and told me that she wanted to split her time between London and NY and start a new entrepreneurial venture aimed at creating the best of British and American content for both markets.

I’m immensely grateful for the amazing job she has done here at A+E Networks. From launching FYI to wide acclaim, to growing LMN, to leading HISTORY back into growth and securing its position as a premium brand, Jana has been a valued member of the Management Team.

Over the last two years at HISTORY, Jana has built a strong lineup of historical documentary series and boosted its scripted slate, successfully launching ROOTS and SIX. She has helped build a powerful pipeline of other new series, and with the very promising Knightfall coming later this year, is making HISTORY the destination for historically based drama.

Our company has benefited from the many formats and series developed under her watch including Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch, the Tiny House franchise and Escaping Polygamy.

I am enormously grateful for the leadership, passion and commitment she has brought to A+E Networks. Please join me in wishing Jana all the best in her new endeavor.

Read Bennett's note to colleagues:

When I came to the U.S. to launch FYI and run LMN, I had no idea I would end up staying on to lead HISTORY. I’m very thankful to Nancy for giving me such amazing brands to run and I am hugely proud of what the talented teams at all three channels have achieved.

Now that HISTORY is back to growth, it’s time for me to start my next chapter. This was a difficult decision and Nancy was incredibly understanding about my desire to spend some of my time in the UK.  Having been lucky enough to have worked in media on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ll be leaving later this summer to set up my new venture based here and in London.

I am confident that HISTORY will go from strength to strength and will continue to tell stories that America and the rest of the world loves.

I will miss the many creative and talented people I’ve worked with inside A+E, as well as our fantastic partners in production and the many institutions that work with HISTORY. Thank you to everyone for making me feel so at home. I will remain a proud Brooklynite wherever I am based, but unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts in the A+E office, I STILL leave with a minimal understanding of U.S. sports!

READ MORE: The Wrap, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline

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