NBCUniversal announced today that rather than turning the cable network G4 into the upscale mens channel The Esquire Network, as was the plan, the Style network will be overhauled instead. NBCU says that the change, going into effect on September 23, will keep its portfolio more diverse, citing E!, Oxygen, and Bravo as too similar to Style.
Which makes sense. There is probably a lot of viewer overlap with those networks, mostly with women. So what about this new Esquire Network? Who's going to be watching that? Well, NBCU hopes to hit "an upscale male audience underserved in the current marketplace." Which is sort of a funny thing to say, asserting that reasonably educated guys with money aren't catered to on television. The opposite often seems true if you watch the ads on any AMC show or the Golf Channel. But these marketing people probably know better than us, so OK, sure, upscale men finally have their television network. How does The Esquire Network compare to other men's networks, in terms of its man-iness? Let's take a look.
Low-Bro: With shows like Tattoo Nightmares, Fight Master, and COPS, Spike is for hardcore dudes who like things big, loud, and blunt. This is the channel of choice for the grungiest frat, with the house that should probably be condemned and only a few scattered girls intrepid enough to brave the stink keeping them company.
Middle-Bro: Though it's been spared the Esquire makeover, G4 might still be gone, with its on-air talent all fired and its two signature shows canceled. But the network is technically still alive, so we will count it here. G4 is/was for a slightly younger crowd than Spike, and a geekier one. With lots of video game and tech talk, G4 appealed to a lot of indoor lads. The attractive women who worked on the network (like Olivia Munn) were self-described nerds, too. But with shows like American Ninja Warrior, there was certainly some kind of a jock element to the network. Hence its position in the middle.
High-Bro: This new Esquire Network aims for, conceivably, a slightly older demo of dude, one that's employed, has money, and cares about nice things. The network is described as "[c]hampioning intelligence, wit and style," and counts among its areas of interest, "food, fashion, women, humor, travel." They've also got "gaming" and "danger," on the list, but for the most part this is decidedly more sophisticated than we're used to seeing from men's networks. Will it work? NBCU certainly seems to think there's a market for it. And maybe there is. Though we give it about a year before it starts to seem less Esquire and more Details. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)
Pan-Bro: Every guy watches ESPN. Well, not every guy obviously, but in terms of TV demographics, there is probably no specifically targeted network that reaches more bros of all bro shapes and bro sizes. Sure, some of the G4 video game geeks don't watch, nor do the stoners watching Fight Master on Spike, but all told, ESPN is probably the gold standard of getting 18-to-34-year-old dudes to watch TV. The ones you want to advertise to, anyway.
Old-Bro: When a bro grows up, he watches the History channel. But probably also still ESPN.