Esquire Network was an American pay television network that was a 50/50 joint venture between NBCUniversal and the Hearst Corporation. The network carried programs aimed at a metrosexual audience centering on travel, cooking, sports and fashion, along with reruns of popular sitcoms and dramas.
The channel was originally launched as the Style Network (although on-air promotions typically referred to it as simply "Style") on October 1, 1998, serving as a spin-off of E!. It was intended to leverage E!'s coverage of fashion and to provide an expanded venue for shows such as Fashion Emergency. The network focused on fashion, design, interior decoration and urban lifestyle-related programming. Style provided coverage of events like New York Fashion Week and showcased various designers. Early programming included: The Look for Less, Shabby Chic with Rachel Ashwell, Glow: The Beauty Show, Vogue Takes..., Stylemaker, Model, Runway, Dining with Style, and Homes with Style. Around 2003, the channel began airing a variety of "makeover" shows. The home makeover show Clean House lasted for ten seasons on the network; How Do I Look? lasted eight seasons.
Starting around 2008, Style shifted its focus to personality-based reality programing such as Jerseylicious, Tia & Tamera, and Big Rich Texas, along with a female-focused spin-off of The Soup known as The Dish. On June 25, 2012, the Style Network was rebranded with a revised logo and a new slogan: "Work it. Love it. Style it." In 2013, the channel launched two real estate related shows: Hot Listings: Miami and Built, which featured male models remodeling houses.
Esquire Network transition
In December 2012, NBCUniversal signed a brand licensing deal with the Hearst Corporation, owner of Esquire magazine, to relaunch G4 into Esquire Network, which would air shows aimed at a metrosexual audience about travel, cooking, fashion and other male-targeted programming that is not sports related, including the addition of acquired and archived program content from the NBCUniversal library such as Party Down, Parks and Recreation and week-delayed episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The rebranding was scheduled to take place on April 22, 2013, but was moved to an unspecified date in the summer on April 15, 2013, as network general manager Adam Stotsky stated the rebranding was pushed back in order to have a broader slate of original series to launch than would have been available for the April launch. In May 2013, the launch date was pushed to September 23, 2013, with its first program being an 80th anniversary special on Esquire which was rebroadcast later in primetime.
On September 9, 2013, NBCUniversal announced that it would replace Style Network with Esquire Network, leaving G4 "as is for the foreseeable future, though it's highly unlikely the company will invest in more original programming" according to The Hollywood Reporter. One of the factors was likely Style's distribution on DirecTV, giving Esquire more homes at launch with the Style channel slot than they would have had with G4 (G4 had earlier been dropped by DirecTV in 2010 due to the channel's low viewership and had never been able to come to terms on a new carriage agreement). As part of the rebranding, some of Style's existing shows such as Sex and the City reruns in overnight slots continued to air on the Esquire schedule for a short time (although some of the programs may not necessarily fit the network's shifted target demographic; the rights eventually were moved over to E! in December 2013), while others ended their run or moved to either sister networks E!, Bravo and Oxygen. International versions of Style Network continued to exist several years after, as the Esquire brand license was restricted solely to the United States. G4 permanently ceased all broadcasting operations on December 31, 2014.
Style had not made any mention of the oncoming rebranding until September 18, when a 60-second farewell clip was posted on its YouTube channel serving as a retrospective of the network's history and ending with a thanks to the channel's audience for their viewership. Other social media platforms for individual Style programs also began to mention the end of the network on that day. The last program to air on Style on September 22, 2013, was an overnight repeat of the Tia & Tamera season finale (which became its de facto series finale as Tia and Tamera Mowry opted not to continue with the series) at 2 a.m. Eastern Time, with the nightly three-hour paid programming block leading into the Esquire Network launch special after a 30-second abbreviated version of the Style farewell clip aired on the channel space. The changeover occurred on September 23, 2013 at 6 a.m. Eastern Time.
2016–2017 carriage decline
Throughout 2015 and into 2016, the majority of the original programs produced for Esquire Network ended up being low-rated, with only the youth football reality series Friday Night Tykes and the network's Men in Blazers–produced live broadcasts of Pamplona's running of the bulls receiving any critical acclaim or notice, with the rest of its lineup being criticized for "copycat" formats of better programming found on other networks or produced independently for streaming video providers such as YouTube and Vimeo, and not being talked about outside of their premieres or notice of cancellation. Due to this, the network began to carry more repeats of existing library series, which again brought the network towards the same issues befalling G4 and Cloo, where little original content being produced made it a network viewers and providers claimed provided little value for its monthly carriage fees.
On October 1, 2016, Dish Network removed the channel from the lineup. As with their earlier dropping of Cloo, the provider justified it by stating that Esquire's schedule had declined to the point that the majority of its broadcast day was made up of programming also easily found on USA Network, WGN America, FXX, and Ion Television, along with streaming providers. The only notice of the dropping was through the provider's monthly billing statement. AT&T then gave notice that Esquire Network would be dropped from U-verse and DirecTV on December 15, 2016, a move that cut the network's availability by 25% and removed almost all consumer-based satellite service availability outside of niche C-Band consumers. Spectrum through its Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Charter subsidiaries removed the channel from their lineup nationwide on April 25, 2017 (the same day they removed Chiller from their lineup, also nationwide), leaving Verizon FiOS as one of the last cable providers to carry Esquire Network until its demise; online access to the network's TV Everywhere live feed was also maintained as well.
End of operations
On January 18, 2017, it was announced that the network would end all pay television distribution in the summer of 2017 and convert to an online-only model. The network went off the air on June 28 at noon Eastern time. The network programmed a final marathon of Friday Night Tykes that day, ending with the season one finale, "Finish What We Started". After the episode ended, a "Thank you" slide was shown with the network's web address (which shortly thereafter was turned into a redirect to the main Esquire website), after which the channel space created by Style in 1998 ceased to exist. Since that point, there have been no further announcements from NBC Universal or Esquire about the supposed online-only version of the network, and Esquire's "TV" section on their website now contains the general features and behind-the-scenes footage prevalent on most magazine sites.
By coincidence, G4's Canadian network outlived both its mother American network and the Esquire Network, ending operations on August 31, 2017, two months longer than Esquire.
Internationally, Style Network was launched in the Arab world in December 2007 on Showtime Arabia, across Southern and Western Africa during back in November 2007 on DStv, in the United Kingdom and Ireland on June 10, 2008, in Japan on World on Demand, and Australia in November 2009. The network is scheduled to launch in Poland and Romania.
Style Network continues to air in international markets, though its British/Irish version ceased operations on December 9, 2013, while its African version ceased operations on March 31, 2015. The brand licensing agreement with Hearst for Esquire Network was exclusive to the United States, and NBCU and Hearst never pursued any international versions for Esquire Network.
In 2014, the Australian version of the Style Network made its first local commission, Fashion Bloggers, after its American counterpart rebranded. Style Australia shut down on 17 December 2019 upon losing carriage on Foxtel.
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