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NBCU takes on ID as Oxygen retools as crime net

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Frances BerwickNBCUniversal is repositioning female-focused US cable channel Oxygen as a crime-themed network, putting it in direct competition with Investigation Discovery.

The new look network will target true crime-hungry female audiences, which are mainly served in the US by Discovery Communications’ thematic ID channel.

The reposition comes after Oxygen expanded its ‘Crime Time’ block to four days a week (Friday-Monday), which according to NBCU Cable Entertainment president of lifestyle network Frances Berwick has led to “double-digital gains”.

According to Variety, no staff changes are expected as a result of the changes.

To go with the rebrand, NBCU has given the greenlight to a new Dick Wolf series, Cold Justice, and Glass Entertainment Group-produced The Jury Speaks, both of which will debut in the third quarter of 2017.

A full crime slate will be in place by the summer, with new series Three Days to Live, a coproduction of Joke Productions and Lusid Media, debuting on March 5.

“With a lot of high quality projects in development, we believe our current fans, as well as all arm chair detectives, have good reason to be excited.”

Cold Justice is a Wolf Reality and Magical Elves copro following former prosecutor Kelly SIegler and her team of detectives digging into unexplained small town murder cases. Dick Wolf and Tom Thayer executive produce for Wolf Reality, with Jane Lipsitz, Dan Cutforth, Casey Kriley and Nan Strait doing the same for Tinopolis-owned Magical Elves.

The Jury Speaks is a self-contained true crime series that re-examines high profile and controversial cases such as those of George Zimmerman and Michael Jackson.

Nancy Glass, Jon Hirsch, J.C. Mills and Eric Neuhaus are executive producers.

Since Oxygen launched its weekend ‘Crime Time’ block, the channel is up 22% in women 25-54 and 42% in total viewers (2016 vs 4Q 2015).

“Oxygen has always played in this space with the highly successful original series Snapped, one of the longest running crime series on television now approaching its 20th season,” said Berwick.

ID is still the dominant player in the female crime audience demo, with A+E Networks’ Crime + Investigation network also a player.

The Oxygen rebrand comes soon after Berwick closed NBCU’s male-skewed lifestyle channel Esquire Network.