Oxygen Media will complete its transformation into a crime-themed cable network this summer when it will be officially rebranded as a crime destination network for women with an all-crime programming slate. Ramping up that lineup, the network has ordered two new series: Cold Justice — a new season of the reality investigation series executive producer Dick Wolf, which ran on TNT for three seasons — and The Jury Speaks, which examines high-profile cases through the eyes of the jury.
The two shows, both premiering in third-quarter 2017, join a new series about abduction cases, Three Days To Live, which was picked up in June and will premiere March 5. In addition, Oxygen has launched a new podcast about murder cases, Martinis & Murder.
The current Oxygen series that do not fall into the crime theme, including longtime staple Bad Girls Club, Sisterhood Of Hip-Hop and the upcoming Battle Of The Ex Besties, will not continue after the channel’s identity changes in the summer.
“We have a long history in the crime genre,” said Frances Berwick, President, Lifestyle Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.
The longest-running original series on Oxygen is the true-crime docu-drama Snapped, which has been on the air for 14 years. The network eventually launched a Crime Time weekend block, which recently was expanded to four days a week (Friday-Monday). The move has worked, Berwick said.
“The recent expansion of our Crime Time weekend block has enjoyed double-digit gains and has really resonated with our female audience,” she said. “What’s interesting is that many younger viewers are now finding that programming.”
Oxygen’s crime makeover comes at a time when the true-crime genre is immensely popular via podcasts (Serial), docuseries (The Jinx, Making A Murderer, O.J. Made In America) and scripted dramas (People Vs. O.J. Simpson).
” What a tremendous explosion of people following crime online, from podcasts to social chat,” Berwick said. “It’s certainly really encouraging; we’ve always had a very avid fan base for crime programming, and it feels the right moment to go all in.”
The new Oxygen would fill the void left by Court TV leaving the true-crime space when it was rebranded as TruTV. Oxygen’s new crime programming lineup will be focused on original unscripted series. The network would consider scripted series acquisitions to join its current reruns of CSI and NCIS.
Wolf, who is behind the Law & Order and Chicago drama franchises for NBC as well as the new Law & Order: True Crime anthology, which will launch with an installment about the Menendez brothers, had been eyed for a key role in the revamped Oxygen from the get-go. While various scenarios were reportedly explored, including Wolf as an equity partner, the network ultimately opted to have the crime veteran producing series for it. In addition to Cold Justice, he also has other projects in development, said Berwick. There are no current plans for Oxygen to carry any of Wolf’s scripted dramas, but the network is open to that.
This is the second rebranding of a network on Berwick’s portfolio. The shift is not as dramatic as that at Style, which changed its name to Esquire — a partnership between NBCUniversal and Hearts — and switched from catering to women to being focused on men.
“This is very different, with Oxygen’s history in the genre,” Berwick said. “We already have a vast library of crime shows.”
As for Esquire, which recently shut down as a linear network to become a digital-only brand following carriage losses, “I’m very proud of the things we did,” Berwick said. “We grew every year but it felt that at this particular moment, it would be more viable as a digital brand as opposed to linear.”
While Oxygen’s overall ratings had been slipping, the weekend Crime Time block, anchored by Snapped, has boosted the network’s ratings performance by 22% in women 25-54 and 42% in total viewers (2016 vs. 4Q 2015)
Oxygen Media was established in 1999 as an independent, female-oriented cable network led by Geraldine Laybourne, with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Oprah Winfrey among its investors. After early struggles, the channel was sold to NBCUniversal in 2007 for $925 million, including debt. Under its most recent rebrand, Oxygen focused on programming for the millennial multicultural women.
Here are Oxygen’s new series:
Three Days to Live
Premieres Sunday, March 5 at 9PM ET/PT
Produced by Joke Productions and Lusid Media with Joke Fincioen, Biagio Messina and Zak Weisfeld serving as Executive Producers.
It’s a story that dominates the headlines all too often – every hour a woman is taken, and the chances of finding her alive diminish greatly if she is not found within 72 hours of her disappearance. “Three Days to Live” delves into the crucial days immediately following a harrowing abduction with vivid, visceral recreations and compelling first-hand interviews from authorities and loved ones. Distinguished news correspondent, SuChin Pak, narrates the series, taking viewers through the twists and turns of each tormenting case.
From a young girl who is taken by a group of masked men, and held at ransom after answering a knock at the door, to a suburban South Carolina wife and mother who never returned home after a holiday shopping spree, each mystery is unraveled, and viewers will witness justice being served, no matter the outcome.
Series Greenlight – premieres 3Q 2017
Produced by Wolf Reality & Magical Elves with Dick Wolf and Tom Thayer serving as Executive Producers for Wolf Reality and Jane Lipsitz, Dan Cutforth, Casey Kriley and Nan Strait serving as Executive Producers for Magical Elves.
From Executive Producer Dick Wolf, Oxygen revives “Cold Justice,” a real life crime series that follows former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and her team of detectives as they dig into small town murder cases that have lingered for years without answers or closure. Together with local law enforcement from across the country, the Cold Justice team has helped bring about an astounding 16 indictments, 28 arrests, 6 confessions, 8 guilty pleas, and 10 convictions.
The Jury Speaks
Series Greenlight – premieres 3Q 2017
Produced by Glass Entertainment Group with Nancy Glass, Jon Hirsch, J.C. Mills and Eric Neuhaus serving as Executive Producers.
Robert Blake. George Zimmerman. Michael Jackson. Their trials sparked media frenzy, but their fates were all decided by a single jury. “The Jury Speaks” is self-contained, true-crime series that reexamines some of the most high-profile and controversial cases through the eyes of the original jury. These ordinary citizens were catapulted into the limelight. But what really went down inside the courtroom walls? It’s time to get their side of the story and find out if after all these years, would they cast the same vote, or have their minds changed?
Martinis & Murder
Hosted by John Thrasher and Daryn Carp, each weekly episode features an in-depth look at a particular murder or murderer. With a focus on unsolved mysteries, John and Daryn will dish out the crazy details, the little-known facts, and the wild theories surrounding each case. The podcast is available on Oxygen.com, iTunes, Google Play and SoundCloud.