Laybourne: Switching Focus to Network Saved Oxygen


New York -- Oxygen Media’s initial strategy of developing a “convergence network” that relied on both cable programming and Internet content was a mistake, founder and CEO Geraldine Laybourne said Thursday.

“I was drunk, I was stoned, I was intoxicated by the Internet,” Laybourne told attendees at the annual PROMAX&BDA conference here Thursday.

“What I wasn’t right about was that there was an economic proposition that would work with content companies,” added Laybourne, the Nickelodeon founder who launched Oxygen in February 2000.

Once Oxygen executives decided instead to develop the Oxygen brand by building the television network, “We changed the proposition and became an entertainment network, as opposed to an information-based network,” she said.

Laybourne recalled the early days of Nickelodeon, telling the audience of marketing and promotion designers that the kids’ channel spent more money on promotion than programming in its early years, which she attributed to Nick’s ability to grow into a network valued at $12 billion.

Oxygen has followed a similar strategy of relying heavily on marketing and promotions to build its brand, Laybourne said.

“Now that our audience is finding us, we are not going away. This is what sustainability is all about,” she added.

Oxygen will become “cash-positive” this year, Laybourne said.