Esquire Network to take over Style, not G4, as NBCUniversal changes plans

esquire-network-style-take-over.jpgThe quest to launch the Esquire Network has now claimed another victim: the Style network.

On Monday (Sept. 9), The HR reported that NBCUniversal has shifted plans for the Sept. 23 launch of the men's lifestyle net. What was once planned to be a take over of G4 will instead be the colonization of Style. NBCU Cable Entertainment Group chairman Bonnie Hammer, who assumed total control of the company's suite of cable networks in February, points to a glut of female-skewing networks in the portfolio as the reasoning. (Other important factors? Style has a better place on the cable dial than G4 and is in over 14 million more homes.)

"One of the hallmarks of our success is brand clarity," Hammer says in an internal memo to her staff. "Our goal has always been delivery of compelling content by means of distinct, complementary brands, each in its clearly defined lane. With Bravo, E! and Oxygen, we offer unique takes on popular culture for an ever-broadening audience, including the all-important female demo. In pursuit of that same demo, Style presents brand overlap within our portfolio. Esquire Network, on the other hand, offers an opportunity to introduce a lifestyle network that speaks to an upscale male audience underserved in the current marketplace."

As a part of the re-branding, some of Style's current series will continue to air on Esquire, while others will end their runs or move to a new home at one of the other female-skewing networks. Style president Salaam Coleman Smith will remain with the network through the transition, after which she's likely to find a new position within NBCU. Hammer hopes to hold on to as many Style employees as possible, but the move could result in as many as 100 layoffs.

Why this decision wasn't made before G4 was similarly gutted, resulting is massive layoffs, isn't entirely clear. The tattered network is expected to remain as is for the future, with Esquire Network general manager Adam Stotsky in charge. As it's highly unlikely NBCU will invest in anymore original programming at G4, Esquire will, naturally, remain Stotsky's main focus.

Are you surprised by this eleventh-hour switcher?
Photo/Video credit: Esquire Network