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A&E Networks is killing off the Bio Channel this summer to install the new FYI Network, but it's not killing off the Bio website.
Instead, the cable network is shifting control of the site to digital publisher Say Media, which will run editorial, ad sales, technology and marketing for the site, along with A&E's Lifetimemoms.com. A&E will continue to produce more than 100 short-form videos for Bio's site a year. The companies will share profits from ad sales on the sites and in the videos, they said.
Although Bio Channel failed to hold a large enough TV audience to extend its own life, the site is big enough to interest A&E in continuing that part of the brand in some fashion, Mr. Suratt said.
"This symbolizes our ability to invest in our core assets, while experimenting and growing in areas that are not our core areas of business," said Dan Suratt, exec VP-digital at A&E Networks. "Instead of shutting them down, we're letting them grow in ways cable providers wouldn't be able to do."
"We're focused really intently on our linear channels," he added. "With FYI coming this summer, we can build that out. But we have a great thing in the digital space with Bio and Say can help us build that further."
As still happens when measuring the web, however, the size of Biography.com depends on who you ask. ComScore shows Bio's digital audience remaining more or less flat year over year, while Omniture figures provided by A&E reveal steady growth. The site's unique visitors have also risen sharply since September 2011, when it introduced a redesign.
FYI Network bows in July with a mix of food and home-improvement shows, A&E said this week.
Say Media is a digital-only publisher behind more than a dozen websites, including both sites it owns such as xoJane and ReadWrite and sites it handles ad sales for, such as Fashionista and Honestly WTF.
"The video piece is what A&E does really well and will continue to," said Matt Sanchez, Say's CEO and co-founder. "What we can do is develop an engaged audience around that video."
The agreement gives Say a robust video presence minus the costs of production, an attractive notion as publishers develop costly production studios to meet advertisers' demand for video inventory.
Editors from both sites are expected to move to Say, where they will report to Say editorial director Joyce Bautista, and both sites will start running on Say's proprietary content management platform. Redesigns will take place in the second and third quarters.