Death by a skinny bundle. The men-focused Esquire Network, a partnership between NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazines, will no longer be a linear TV network. The digital-only brand will still feature original programming, including new series Borderland USA (working title) and Edgehill, which will now launch in the spring on the direct-to-consumer product Esquire.com.
The move follows AT&T DirecTV and U-Verse’s decision in December to drop Esquire, which lost 15 million subscribers to go down to 45 million homes. Additionally, NBCUniversal has been in difficult carriage negotiations with Charter Spectrum, which also has been likely to drop Esquire, bringing the network’s distribution down another 15 million homes to 30 million.
The switch to digital will have an impact on the network’s workforce, with layoffs expected. The employees will be getting more information on the future of the network and their own future starting today and tomorrow.
“Since its launch, Esquire Network has seen consistent growth among total viewers and key demos and has delivered significant value to our advertising partners. Men today consume content on a variety of platforms and it is essential that we follow our viewers,” said Adam Stotsky, President, E! Entertainment and Esquire Network. “We are grateful to the team that has contributed to Esquire’s many successes to date, and this new strategy sets us up for the future.”
Added Hearst Magazines President David Carey, “We look forward to our continued partnership with NBCUniversal with this digital driven, forward-looking strategy, which reinforces the brand’s premium value proposition.”
Launched in September 2013 when Style was rebranded as Esquire Network to focus on upscale men, the network has showed ratings growth — including gains of +87% among total viewers, +63% among A18-49 in primetime — and it has been profitable for its owners. But the drive for skinny bundles by the major cable and satellite providers have been hitting smaller, upstart networks like Esquire hard. There has been talk for months that we will start to see some of the less established cable brands fold.
Esquire Network ’s new portal, Esquire.com, will feature existing series, such as Car Matchmaker, Knife Fight, Brew Dogs and Best Bars in America, as well as the two new original series. Here is more details on them:
“Borderland USA” (working title)
This new documentary series will follow the most elite special ops unit on US soil, BORTAC (Border Patrol Tactical Unit). BORTAC’s primary purpose is to combat the Central and South American cartels’ lucrative business operations through intercepting and preventing drugs from coming across the border, human trafficking raids, counter terrorism and high-tech special ops missions. The immersive series will follow the missions of BORTAC teams protecting two of the most active and dangerous regions along the southern border, Rio Grande Valley, TX and Ajo, AZ. The series is produced by Lucky 8 TV with Kim Woodard, Greg Henry and Bill Pruitt serving as Executive Producers.
This new first person investigative series will explore the unsolved 1998 murder of Yale undergrad Suzanne Jovin. Reporter Charles Graeber will dig into allegations of a police cover-up, CIA involvement, an affair gone wrong, and mental illness. Viewers will follow Graeber, in real time, as he works sources, chases down leads, runs into dead-ends, and ultimately hopes to find the information that will reveal the truth surrounding the case. “Edgehill” is produced by Punched in the Head with Craig D’Entrone and Amelia D’Entrone serving as Executive Producers.