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May 12, 2017

In Awe of the Law

With stats showing women want true-crime tales, Oxygen readies a rebrand.

Christine Champagne
  • Cold Justice's Kelly Seigler

    David S. Holloway/TBS

When the news broke that NBC Universal was rebranding Oxygen as a crime-focused network for women, it didn’t come as a shock — it seemed inevitable.

Since 2004 the female-skewing network has been home to the popular true-crime series Snapped, which has spawned two spinoffs, while steadily adding other crime-centric content, like Homicide for the Holidays, to its lineup.

Last year it expanded its Crime Time programming block from three to four nights a week. The transition will ramp up through the spring and, by the summer, Oxygen will go crime all the time.

“There is a ferocious appetite for true crime,” says Rod Aissa, Oxygen Media’s executive vice-president, original programming and development, citing the success of NPR’s Serial podcast and the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer. “These programs have brought younger female viewers into the true-crime genre in such an enthusiastic way.”

A self-described super-fan of the genre, Aissa has been consulting with agents, authors and other thought leaders in the crime space. “The genre is exploding and changing so quickly,” he explains. “I’m talking to as many people as I can to hear how to tell a crime show in a different way, and what kind of shows people are excited about.”

When it comes to original programming, Oxygen will continue to focus on developing unscripted fare, such as Three Days to Live. The show, which premiered in March, looks at abduction cases, examining the crucial 72-hour period after someone goes missing.

Debuting this summer The Jury Speaks, a series from executive producer Nancy Glass that gives voice to the jury members who weighed in on cases involving the likes of Robert Blake and Michael Jackson, and a revival of the Dick Wolf series Cold Justice, which originated on TNT and follows former  prosecutor Kelly Siegler.

“As a true-crime viewer, I like to be an armchair detective, to see the investigation unfold but do my own questioning,” Aissa says. “Cold Justice is the platinum standard for that kind of investigation show. This show has a rabid and loyal fan base — take a gander at the Facebook page. People have been asking where it’s been and when it’s going to come back.”

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2017

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