NBCUniversal’s Oxygen Will Rebrand as a Full-Time Crime Network

Struggling channel will battle Investigation Discovery for viewers

Cold Justice, which ran for three seasons on TNT, will be revived as part of Oxygen's rebrand. @ColdJusticeTNT
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Oxygen, which has struggled to connect with viewers since it launched in 2000, is rebranding as a crime-themed network for women, NBCUniversal announced today.

But NBCUniversal will still only have one cable network devoted to crime in its stable: Cloo, which aired crime-themed library content, folded up shop today.

With the rebranding, NBCUniversal will target the viewers that have made Discovery Communications’ Investigation Discovery the No. 1 channel among all broadcast and cable networks in total-day length of tune.

Oxygen, which saw ratings bumps after expanding its “Crime Time” weekend block to four days a week, announced three new series as part of the rebrand, which will see a full-time crime lineup in place by this summer. At that time, the network will be a mix of original unscripted content and popular acquisitions like NCIS and CSI. The network’s name will not change as part of the rebrand.

Three Days to Live, debuting March 5, will look at the crucial 72 hours following a woman’s disappearance, after which the chances of finding the victim alive diminish greatly.

The network picked up a pair of series, Cold Justice and The Jury Speaks, which will debut in the third quarter. Cold Justice is a revival of the Dick Wolf-produced real-life series, which aired on TNT from 2013-2015, about a former prosecutor who looks into unsolved “cold case” murder cases in small towns. The Jury Speaks is a true crime series that revisits high-profile court cases from the point of the view of the jurors.

Oxygen has also announced a new weekly podcast, Martinis & Murder, which will delve into a compelling murder or murderer.

“The recent expansion of our ‘Crime Time’ weekend block has enjoyed double-digit gains and has really resonated with our female audience,” said Frances Berwick, president of lifestyle networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, in a statement. “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. 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.”

Oxygen launched with Oprah Winfrey as a co-founder in 2000, but struggled to find its footing, with several rebrands and relaunches along the way. NBCUniversal bought the network in 2007, but was never able to find a formula that connected with viewers.

As it rebrands Oxygen, NBCUniversal has separately pulled the plug on Cloo, formerly known as Sleuth, which featured all library content from other NBCU networks. That network has slowly been losing distribution, and with Charter dropping it effective today, the decision was made to cease network operations. Because Cloo had no dedicated staff, there are no layoffs associated with its demise.

Two weeks ago, the company said Esquire Network, one of its other networks, has been losing distribution and will be shutting down as a linear network this summer and switching to digital-only. Meanwhile, the company’s other tiny network, the horror-themed Chiller, is still operating.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.