The channel, which launched in September 2013, perhaps best known for its airing of “American Ninja Warrior,” was inspired by Hearst’s men’s magazine Esquire. Unfortunately for Hearst and NBC Universal, the channel never really seemed to take off.
As a result, the network will relaunch as a direct-to-consumer digital service available on esquire.com. NBC Universal said it will launch two new original series, “Borderland USA” (working title) and “Edgehill” this spring on the web site.
At launch, NBC Universal said Esquire would be available in 75 million homes, but the channel had had trouble luring in even a fraction of that audience, amassing an average household viewership of 55,000 during prime time, according to data supplied by Nielsen. Still, the channel did show year-over-year growth, the ratings agency said. Case in point: In 2016, the network averaged 141,000 in primetime, but that still was worse than rival cable channels such as Discovery Family and MTV2.
When it launched, the Esquire Network replaced the Style channel with programming meant to appeal to a sophisticated male audience — the kind that would read Esquire magazine. Its initial prime-time line up was definitely male-centric and included “White Collar Brawlers,” a show that pitted coworkers against each other in a boxing ring; “Risky Listing,” a New York nightlife real estate show; “How I Rock It,” a series hosted by Baron Davis of the NBA’s New York Knicks about style setters, and “Alternative Route,” a travel-centric show set in the U.S.
NBC Universal released the following statements from Esquire Network and E Entertainment president Adam Stotsky and Hearst Magazines president David Carey, offering: “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 Stotsky. “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.”
“We look forward to our continued partnership with NBC Universal with this digital-driven, forward-looking strategy, which reinforces the brand’s premium value proposition,” said Carey.