A+E Networks’ Liz Soriano helps to deliver factual programming at its finest
This story appears in the March-April 2021 issue of Television Asia Plus.
An accomplished media industry veteran with 30 years under her belt, A+E Networks’ Liz Soriano has helped to build A+E into a world-class provider of content and a top creator of global IP.
One of Liz’s contributions to A+E Networks included the launch of the Lifetime Movie Network Channel in Australia in September 2020 and her involvement with HISTORY U.S. on the international co-production with Hulu Japan on the documentary Hiroshima: 75 Years Later.
Apart from these achievements, Liz is also a champion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace where she serves as a member of A+E Networks’ Multicultural Advisory Council and Employee Resource Group Advisory Council.
In January, Steve McDonald, the President of Global Licensing & International at A+E Networks announced Liz’s promotion to Senior Vice President of International Programming. Liz talked to Television Asia Plus on A+E Networks’ expansion of its global programming services, what we can expect in terms of content slate, and more.
Television Asia Plus (TVA): In your new role as SVP of International Programming at A+E Networks, what is in the pipeline to further expand the company’s global programming services?
Liz Soriano (LS): Despite the impact of COVID on production throughout the past year, A+E’s pipeline has remained robust, enabling us to enter the market with a competitive catalogue featuring a volume of ongoing franchises, new series, and documentaries across all of our successful genres.
One thing we’re very proud of is that, domestically and abroad, all of our brands and channels have established clear identities. For example, the History brand has earned its reputation as a continual hit-maker in factual entertainment, with its shows in the skills, and thrills, artifactual. Unsolved history, UFO, and core history spaces. We’ve bee n fortunate to be able to partner with incredible name talent to our shows who share our passion in all things history. The spring catalogue features series with Tim Allen, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman, and William Shatner, just to name a few.
As for Lifetime, it continues its commitment to movies and series for women. Globally, the popularity of Lifetime continues to grow, thanks to its fulsome movie slate, and super entertaining series in the real love and relationships space, as well as relevant justice for women specials.
TVA: What does A+E have in store for the next coming quarters in terms of programming?
LS: From The History Channel, Laurence Fishburne and Morgan Freeman are hosts of new series called History’s Greatest Mysteries and Great Escapes, respectively. Actor and comedian Tim Allen is reunited with his Home Improvement co-star Richard Karn on a new, invention competition format called Assembly Required, and the legendary William Shatner is back for a new season of The UnXplained. We’re also excited to premiere the next instalment of The Food that Built America and the return of Modern Marvels.
In addition to some fantastic, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Lifetime will soon introduce the latest chapter in our V.C. Andrews book adaptation, the four-part Ruby Landry series, following the massive success of 2019’s Casteel Family saga. We are also super excited about a number of Lifetime projects fueled by strong, diverse talent including Wendy Williams and Vivica Fox.
A+E has plenty in store, especially for the insatiable global crime and investigation audience: the latest seasons of Nightwatch and The First 48, new spinoffs The First 48: Critical Minutes and Court Cam: Under Oath, the return of Cold Case Files, and a brand-new series called I Survived a Crime which features harrowing stories about people who were victims of crimes and how they lived to tell their tales. Also, under our Biography Presents umbrella, this year we have incredible, nostalgic and revealing documentaries on the Osbourne family and the legendary band KISS, among others. We will also be unveiling some new series in the big character space, stay tuned.
TVA: How do you plan to further A+E Networks’ growth as a top creator of global IP?
LS: Both in the US and globally, A+E is committed to keeping its factual and movie pipeline strong.
Our international channels are constantly building localised expressions of our brands through their own regional adaptations of our popular series. For example, in Latin America we have Spanish-language adaptations of Forged in Fire and The UnXplained, featuring stories and characters from the region.
Across Asia, our channels continue to develop their own original slates and invest in original productions with local appeal and international export potential. In Korea, A+E will debut a handful of local original unscripted entertainment series this year, as well as daytime studio-style projects. Japan is investing heavily in original mega-docs, while Southeast Asia recently came out with a timely and relevant documentary on the COVID crises.
TVA: Can you please tell us more about your involvement in the recent launch of the Lifetime Movie Network channel in Australia?
LS: Our longtime partner, Foxtel, was interested in launching a Lifetime Movie Network on their services. It was a natural fit, and we were able to offer them an untapped portfolio of content to serve their audience’s needs.
TVA: As someone who supports Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, what have you done so far as a member of A+E’s Multicultural Advisory Council and Employee Resource Group Advisory Council?
LS: Over the past year, A+E has really amplified its commitment to positively impacting DEI in the workplace, in our content and in our communities. We have all been charged to improve the way we run our businesses and put DEI into active practice in everything we do.
For example, our Multicultural Advisory Council regularly reviews and advises on programs, promos, and other content to ensure they are inclusive and appropriate, and we also offer ideas on other creative and editorial to further enhance our brands’ programming slates. We meet monthly but also review content as needed. It’s been a full and busy year of good work in this service.
As for the Employee Resource Group Advisory Council, this is a team responsible for creating peer-led community spaces for A+E employees. Among the many of these community groups that will launch this year, is ACE—the Asian Community Excellence ERG, which will bring together employees of East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander and Middle Eastern descent (and their allies) to educate, celebrate, empower, support, and promote Asian cultures. In fact, this is happening in real-time with urgency given the recent issues of violence that have affected the AAPI community in the US. With the full support of the senior leadership team at A+E, we have chosen action and not just lip service to making a real DEI impact.
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