The Oxygen Channel, known for programs like “The Bad Girls Club” and “The Prancing Elite Project,” is re-branding itself. Based on the success of its long-running series, “Snapped,” the cable network is abandoning its fluffy reality shows to focus solely on true crime beginning this month.
“Oxygen is not new to the crime space,” says Rod Aissa, Oxygen Media’s executive vice president for original programming and development. “‘Snapped’ is one of the true success stories in the genre, and it’s in its 20th season on Oxygen.
“It’s fair to say we already had a loyal audience who came to us for their crime-related content. When we expanded our weekend ‘Crime Time’ programming block last year, our audience kept growing. The sea change was evident, and we wanted to give our viewers more of what they craved.”
And what women crave, it appears, are grisly investigative murder series.
“Historically it’s a female-viewer-dominated space,” Aissa told FoxNews.com. “Women enjoy the genre, and you can see clear evidence of this across the TV, film and podcast landscapes.
“I believe women are the smarter gender and are more suited to solve the high-stakes crime mysteries they see on our series.”
Treva Lindsey, associate professor of women's gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State University, agrees with Aissa’s assessment. “Women viewers don't want to be put in a box in terms of their interests,” she said. “Networks are finally recognizing women as customers who desire a range of stories and characters.”
But despite Oxygen’s success with “Snapped,” overhauling the channel won’t be easy.
“Re-branding can be incredibly difficult,” said Los Angeles-based TV producer Geoff Skinner. “It took ABC Family years to lose that moniker, even long after they had switched focus in programming.
“However,” he said, speaking of Oxygen, “they seem to have a clear, easy-to-understand vision for what they want. And since they're already in millions of homes across America, they could really make this transition work.”
Changing a brand always has risks, but TV experts generally agreed that Oxygen has a strong marketing strategy.
“It’s a great move,” said Scot Safon, who was general manager of HLN during the Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias trials. “‘Snapped’ worked consistently well for them for years, and they clearly got great feedback from their existing audiences.
“Plus, the true crime genre is stronger than ever — CrimeCon just launched this spring as the Comic Con of true crime, and it was a big success. Oxygen is going to do very well with this.”
And what can viewers expect from the newly minted Oxygen?
Aissa said he is enthusiastic about his collaborations with the “likes of Dick Wolf, Ice T, Nancy Grace, Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, Wilshire Studios and Peacock Productions. All heavy hitters in this space.”