Ever since its launch, NBCUniversal’s Oxygen has struggled with identity as just another female-focused cable network among a slew of others, including Lifetime, Bravo, E! and WEtv. It finally might have found its identity in crime programming, which has done surprisingly well.

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NBC

Oxygen’s Crime Time primetime block, recently expanded from three to four nights a week, boosted the network’s total-day ratings on those days by 44% in 4Q vs. the same period last year. The NBCU cable leadership has taken notice and is starting to explore an overall crime-theme rebranding of the network. Talks are underway with prolific crime drama producer Dick Wolf, who is in the NBCU family with a rich deal, as well as other producers, about being part of the new Oxygen. I hear conversations are in preliminary stages and there are different scenarios being considered, including one in which Wolf would be the sole partner with equity in a setup similar to OWN, a joint venture between Discovery and Oprah Winfrey — who, coincidentally, was an original investor in Oxygen before the struggling independent network was sold to NBCU.

Wolf, whose company produces both scripted and unscripted crime reality series, including NBC’s ever-growing Chicago franchise, already is developing programming for Crime Time. There also are other possibilities for Oxygen as a crime brand working with multiple producers.

Oxygen’s Crime Time features such real-crime series as Snapped, Killer Couples and It Takes a Killer. A possible crime makeover, first reported by Variety, would not change Oxygen’s female focus. In the past couple of months, Oxygen has launched or picked up a slew of such series catering to its target audience of “millennial women”, including Strut, Unprotected, Bad Girls Club, The Battle of the Ex-Bestie and Last Squad Standing.

NBCU in 2013 rebranded another of its lower-profile female cable networks, Style, as the male-centered Esquire.