Less than two months after announcing that it would launch
a female-targeted network, executives from Turner Broadcasting System Inc. confirmed last
Friday that they have shelved the plans.
In a prepared statement, Turner said, "It is not in
the company's best interest or in the best interests of our affiliates to actively
pursue the creation of The Women's Network at this time."
Turner had planned to develop programming jointly with
another Time Warner Inc. unit, Advance Publications Inc., publisher of magazines such as In
Style and Vogue. The partners had been in discussions for about one year before
they publicly announced the network just before the National Show in June.
The immediate beneficiaries of the decision will be two
Turner networks that are in the prelaunch stage.
Turner executives will now turn their full attention to the
kickoff of Turner South, a regional sports and entertainment network that should begin
cablecasting in October, and Boomerang, a cartoon network mining the vaults of another
Time Warner property, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc. Boomerang has an April launch date.
Three launched but nascent networks will also get increased
support -- Turner Classic Movies, CNN/SI and CNNfn -- officials said.
A spokesman dismissed the notion that Turner officials were
affected by the National Show buzz over another network targeted toward women, Oxygen. The
source said potential affiliates were "kind of receptive" to The Women's
Network, and they reacted favorably to Turner's plans.
At the trade show, programming officials predicted that
both potential launches -- The Women's Network and Oxygen -- could attract
affiliation agreements to deliver each into 20 million homes. But, they added, one of the
ventures would still "bleed to death."
On paper, Oxygen appeared to have the lead in the race to
It has affiliation agreements with AT&T Broadband &
Internet Services, MediaOne Group Inc. and Charter Communications. Further, the parent of
the latter MSO, Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures Inc., announced that it would invest
$100 million in Oxygen Media in return for a minority stake.
The agreements guaranteed Oxygen 10 million subscribers by
its launch date -- Feb. 2, 2000. Other deals will add 6.5 million more homes over the next
Operators were also intrigued by a marketing partnership
planned between Oxygen and ubiquitous coffee vendor Starbucks Corp.
Oxygen also intends to differentiate itself from other
current and soon-to-be-launched networks -- including Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie
Network, Romance Classics and E! Entertainment Television spinoff Style -- by programming
Potential affiliates were intrigued by that strategy, and
they said they were especially impressed by the afternoon teen girls' block.
The Women's Network's greatest selling points
included its ability to leverage off an existing brand and infrastructure and the fact
that it would control -- through its potential carriage on Time Warner's Manhattan
system -- the eyes of the Wall Street elite.
Plans for The Women's Network ultimately called for
all programming to be original or Turner "repurposed" -- a goal officials
finally concluded was too ambitious, a source said.