Esquire Network Cable Channel to Shut Down

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Esquire Network is killing its linear cable TV channel and instead going straight to consumers with a digital channel.

The cable network will go dark this spring. An NBC Universal spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the network will be rebranded.

Esquire's direct-to-consumer product will be available through Esquire.com. The spokeswoman declined to say whether it will be a paid subscription service or carry advertising.

Esquire Network, a partnership between NBC Universal and Hearst Magazines, took over Style network in September 2013, with the goal of reaching young, affluent men who have been traditionally hard to reach on TV.

While Esquire had expanded its ratings base and put up significantly higher numbers than its predecessor, it remained an also-ran. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Esquire in 2016 averaged just 141,000 primetime viewers, and while that was good for an 18% year-over-year lift above Style, its delivery in the key 18-to-49 demographic was underwhelming. The network last year averaged less than one-tenth of a ratings point among adults 18 to 49, putting it in the company of such low-flying niche channels as Pop, Reelz and Destination America.

"Men today consume content on a variety of platforms and it is essential that we follow our viewers," said Adam Stotsky, President, E! Entertainment and Esquire Network. "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."

Esquire will continue to make new content for the service. "Edgehill," an investigative series about the 1998 unsolved murder of a Yale undergrad, and a documentary series following a special ops unit with the working title "Borderland USA," will debut on the digital service in the spring. The digital channel will also include current shows like "Knife Fight," "Brew Dogs" and "Best Bars in America."

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