A&E Television Networks -- a joint venture between the Disney-ABC Television Group, Hearst Corp. and NBC Universal -- announced today that it has an agreement to acquire Lifetime Entertainment Services.
The combined company will now put several well-known cable networks under one management team while maintaining each channel's individual brand identity.
The parent company will retain the A&E Television Networks name and will include the following channels: A&E Network, History, Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Bio, History International, Lifetime Real Women, History en Español, Military History and Crime & Investigation Network.
Abbe Raven, president and chief executive officer of A&E, will serve as head of the combined company following the closing.
"Consolidating these networks puts a powerful portfolio of distinct brands under the strategic vision of one of the industry's most innovative and effective leaders," Anne Sweeney, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, and president of the Disney/ABC Television Group said in a statement. "The new company will be much greater than the sum of its parts, positioning these brands for a new level of success and performance."
Disney-ABC , NBC Universal and Hearst said the new company "will be well positioned" for expansion opportunities and cross-promotion by combining the resources, libraries and multiple platforms of 10 brands, including more than 20 Web sites.
The combination of these businesses is also expected to yield substantial cost efficiencies, although those were not specified. A closing is expected to happen this calendar year. Financial terms were not disclosed. Lifetime Entertainment Services was formed by the merger of the Daytime and Cable Health Network in 1984. It's jointly owned by ABC and Hearst.
Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment said in a statement that A&E is the product of a "long and very successful partnership" between ABC, NBC and Hearst.
"This transaction represents the next stage of this partnership and the evolution of some terrific media brands," Gaspin said.
Under the agreement, NBC Universal may elect or be required to exit A&E Television Networks over a period of up to 15 years, in which event Disney and Hearst could become 50-50 owners of A&E.
"We are very proud of the success of these important cable brands and the content created with our partners," Scott Sassa, president, Hearst Entertainment & Syndication said in a statement. "The new A&E Television Networks better positions each brand to continue to focus on the world-class storytelling and quality original programs they are known for."