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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

A+E Media Group

Programming Profile

A+E Media Group’s slate of genre-rich entertainment feeds global appetite for content across all platforms

21-09-2022

Liz Soriano of A+E Media Group unpacks her sales strategy for this year’s Mipcom as the company showcases a raft of new true-crime offerings alongside long-running formats and franchises via C21’s Digital Screenings.

 

A+E Media Group is heading to Mipcom this year with the goal of expanding the reach of mega franchises such as Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Forged in Fire and enticing buyers with a new slate of titles focused on crime and justice. The company boasts a catalog that is genre-rich, and this year includes a special nod to the world’s growing appetite for crime-focused programming.

 

In fact, their mission has been to build a slate that can satisfy the seemingly never-ending global appetite for true-crime content across a variety of platforms, both old and new, says Liz Soriano, senior VP of international programming at A+E Media Group.

 

“Most crime enthusiasts, we’ve learned, just want to keep being fed those kinds of past-tense crime stories again and again. We’ve seen it not just on linear, but on SVoD, AVoD and FAST. We see the value of that and we’re going to keep feeding it,” she says.

 

Soriano
Liz Soriano, A+E Media Group

And the growth of viewing options has meant there are so many more buyers in the marketplace these days for companies like A+E, which boasts a thriving linear business during a period of rapid expansion for digital outlets such as FAST, AVoD and SVoD, providing a built-in opportunity to reach slightly younger audiences.

 

This has enabled the company to lean into some of its greatest strengths. For around 20 years, A+E’s bread and butter has been unscripted crime series that it has nurtured and built into globe-trotting franchises. Today, some of its most notable franchises include The First 48, Cold Case Files and Court Cam.

 

Phrogging: Hider in my House
Phrogging: Hider in my House

While those franchises form the bedrock of its unscripted business, the company is eager to find its next hit factual format with a trio of titles debuting at this year’s Mipcom.

 

Among them is Phrogging: Hider in my House, which examines stories of people who realise that someone else has been living in their home unbeknownst to them – often for a significant period of time. The series falls into the bucket of “cautionary tale crime,” says Soriano.

 

Also new to the slate is Interrogation Raw, a series that explores intriguing interrogations and what happens to detectives as they try to get to the bottom of difficult cases. Soriano says the show is an “example of how A+E factual content not only tells a very strong story, but takes the viewer along an emotional rollercoaster, a high-stakes drama experience.”

 

Interrogation Raw
Interrogation Raw

Elsewhere on the crime slate, A+E Media Group has spun off its popular Cold Case Files series into a new limited series, Cold Case Files: The Rifkin Murders. Soriano says the latter series “harnesses the first-person narrative” and brings materials, archival footage and facts that haven’t been seen before.

 

Outside of crime, A+E Media Group has enjoyed continued success with its multi-genre entertainment approach in the factual space. Among its dozens of series on the air is the survival competition series Alone, a History original that has become a strong format in the US and globally. In August, History launched a pair of spin-offs, Alone: The Skills Challenge and Alone: Frozen, both produced by ITV America-backed Leftfield Pictures. That same month, UK broadcaster Channel 4 commissioned a local adaptation of the US survival format.

 

Another format being pushed in Cannes is The Rap Game, which follows emerging hip-hop artists as they are given the opportunity to work with an in-demand producer.

 

Alone
Alone

Soriano is quick to point out that A+E Media Group’s properties are not simply popular on home soil. “These shows have become extremely popular internationally and other broadcasters have been very interested in them,” she says.

 

Top Dog is another format that has broken through internationally after achieving success in America. The series, which airs on A&E Network in the US, sees dogs and their owners tackling obstacle courses and completing challenges. It has been remade in Germany by RTL.

 

Premium documentary is another space where A+E Media Group intends to make a concerted push, says Soriano. Eight-part History docuseries Colossuem is a key title on this year’s Mipcom slate. While programming based on the Colosseum usually celebrates blood and gore, the doc instead focuses on the people who worked within it, from the gladiators to the beast masters who would train the animals.

 

Top Dog
Top Dog

“AA+E Media Group finds that, as an IP producer, you can create premium content and you can create popular content. The two can co-exist, and we’ve figured out how to do it,” says Soriano.

 

Social experiment docuseries are also a key part of this year’s slate, including Sixty Days In, which sees volunteers being incarcerated as undercover prisoners, and From Inmate to Roommate, which follows newly released inmates as they re-enter society and move in with everyday people.

 

On the movie front, thrillers have long been a strong suit for A+E Media Group-backed cable network Lifetime. This year will be no different, says Soriano, as the company has continued to fill its pipeline of thrillers with new additions to its Keeping Up With the Joneses franchise, starring Vivica Fox. In addition, its VC Andrews movies have performed well to-date and will receive a further sales push at Mipcom.

 

WWE Rivals
WWE Rivals

Biography will continue to be a key area of focus for A+E Media Group too. The company has an ongoing relationship with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and is producing around 60 hours of content through that partnership, according to Soriano.

 

One of those series is WWE Rivals, which takes a deep dive into some of the most notorious rivalries in the history of professional wrestling. Other biographical docs include The Origins of Hip Hop, which delves into the origin story of some of the music genre’s biggest names, and Right to Offend: The Black Comedy Revolution, which explores the progression of black comedy and the comedians who have used humour to challenge and expose societal injustices in America.

 

A+E Media Group is also looking to expand its presence in the international coproduction market for scripted drama. This year, A+E Media Group is coming to Mipcom with North Sea Connection, a Swedish-Irish coproduction about a fishing family who find their way into the world of drug smuggling.

 

North Sea Connection
North Sea Connection

The series is joining the slate on the heels of Miss Scarlet & the Duke, the London-set show following a woman who joins forces with a Scotland Yard inspector to solve crime in 19th century. The series, which debuted in 2020, “continues to fuel our energies behind the international scripted coproductions business,” says Soriano.

 

Soriano adds that A+E Media Group is acutely aware of the opportunities in the European market. They are also making a push to expand their presence in South Korea, where A+E has its own History and Lifetime channels, and have been growing a successful coproduction business with a slate of projects including the recently announced If You Wish Upon Me.

 

“For us, as we go to the international market, we are obviously going to be pushing our own work, but at the same time we’re also going to be taking more interest in finding other coproduction opportunities,” she says.

 

Miss Scarlet and the Duke
Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Soriano highlights the breadth of this year’s Mipcom slate. “The reason why you see such variety on our Mipcom list this year is because we’ve been working really hard to not only continue some of our highest-volume and strongest unscripted franchises, but we’ve spent a lot of time in all of our major genres making those even bigger, in some cases even spinning out our successful franchises.”

 

Part of the reason for that is the knowledge that a multitude of buyers await them at Mipcom. “What we’ve learned over the last year is that our content continues to resonate on linear globally, but we’re also resonating on multiple digital platforms,” she says.

 

For many, Mipcom 2022 is an important market and, as Soriano puts it, “a reunion of sorts.” With that in mind, A+E Media Group is eager to reveal the depth and breadth of its 2022 slate to global buyers. “We’re coming to the market to showcase that we’re a genre-rich entertainment media company,” she says.



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