There's a lot changing in the cable landscape right now as channels figure out whether or not scripted originals are the best goal. Channels are also changing, as last year H2 switched to Viceland. This year, it seems like another channel will go through a rebranding, as NBC Universal has announced that the female-oriented Oxygen channel is going to become a crime channel. Yes, the channel that used to be known for Talk Sex With Sue Johanson is getting way more into crime programming.
The network is stopping short of changing its name, but after the successes of a primetime crime block, Oxygen is going hard with its new angle. Frances Berwick, the President of Lifestyle Networks says its "Crime Time" block will still run four days a week. In addition, the network has signed on for the high-profile Dick Wolf true crime drama Cold Justice. New show Three Days To Live is also scheduled to air on March 5. The Jury Speaks will hit the network in Quarter 3 and Martinis & Murder, a podcast, is already available. Long gone are the days when The Glee Project reigned supreme.
The network also says that it is sticking with "core female viewers" when switching over to crime full time. Crime drama Snapped has done well on the network for 20 seasons--when the cable channel was still gearing to females only. The numbers indicate that the crime blocks are helping the channel to bring in bigger numbers overall. For example, the channel was up 22% in women 25-54 during 2016, but the network is also up 42% in viewers overall.
We're not super surprised that Oxygen is finding a niche elsewhere. The lifestyle network has often played second fiddle to Lifetime in terms of prominence with female viewers, and it's not exactly competing with networks like TLC, that crush with shows like Say Yes To The Dress. In recent years, cable network Investigation Discovery (ID) was also launched, and has proven that true crime is a sell to households. In 2015, ID was the highest-rated network when looking at women between the ages of 25-to 54. In 2016, ID was second in the demographic. Clearly, women love true crime shows and crime shows are a way to yield new viewers.
It's a little surprising to me that Oxygen is sticking with its name despite going through a total rebranding, Oxygen does not strike me as a good name for a crime-based network, but I guess it does have the benefit of people already knowing the name. We'll let you know if any more big changes come the network's way in the coming months, but hopefully this is the start of something lucrative for the channel. What do you think, Oxygen fans? Do more crime dramas make you happy?
Find out which shows are headed to the schedule soon with our midseason TV premiere schedule.