Bennett joins as senior adviser with a mandate to expand the 5-year-old company’s original content operations. The company, co-founded in 2013 by former CNN and MSNBC anchor Carlos Watson, produces programming for its own digital platforms as well as supplying series to outside buyers.
Ozy Media has produced factual and talk show programs for PBS, BBC, Amazon and Facebook and has a half-dozen more in development. The company’s focus is on highlighting “the new and the next” in arts, politics, pop culture and other arenas. The Ozy Media moniker was inspired by the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Bennett is a veteran cable programmer who launched the FYI lifestyle channel for A+E Networks in 2014. She advanced to president and g.m. of A+E’s History in 2015 before exiting the company in May 2017, saying she wanted to split her time between New York and her native Britain. Bennett’s career has also included stints as a journalist, producer and senior programming executive for BBC.
“We have seen our television and podcast businesses explode in the past year,” said Watson, who is CEO. “Ozy’s creativity knows no bounds. The industry has responded extremely well to our wide range of content and the high production quality. Jana is precisely the type of leader who can build on Ozy’s ’s early success in TV and podcasts thus far, and help us reach new heights.”
Bennett said she was drawn to Ozy’s “distinctive voice in news, TV and digital media” and to Watson and his team. Ozy Media’s investors include Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and German publisher Axel Springer. The company said it has 50 million monthly unique users and 5 million subscribers. It’s also branching out into hosting its own artsy festivals and other live events.
“Ozy is a brand that has so many attractive projects in the pipeline, great journalism you can trust and a young, savvy, loyal audience who follows Ozy across all media and live events,” Bennett said. “This is the time to be part of the Ozy story.”