×

Esquire Network Preview: New Channel Tries to Scratch a Niche

Esquire might need to expand into TV, but do guys need the branded channel?

Lord knows magazines need to creatively exploit new revenue streams, but why viewers need an Esquire network remains a mystery. Having finally settled on a Comcast channel to displace (Style, we hardly knew ye), the new venture launches Sept. 23, with a variety of lifestyle-oriented programming, ostensibly aimed at men. Yet a preview suggests the hipster vibe speaks to an audience that should be too cool to watch most of this stuff, or too male to commit to much other than sports, manly men in dirty jobs and the occasional gritty drama. Frankly, if a magazine-derived, male-tilted network is going to succeed, put your money on Maxim.

Most of the series previewed (either in full or promotional form) could easily be found on the Travel Channel, a la “The Getaway” (pictured), in which a different celebrity each week spends a weekend eating and drinking his or her way through some fabulous locale. Others, like “Knife Fight,” in which two chefs square off, have an amped-up “Iron Chef”-like feel; or “Brew Dogs,” which raises the question of just how devoted men are to the subject of micro-beers.

“Boundless,” meanwhile, features a couple of Canadian buddies subjecting themselves to intense physical challenges (the Hawaii installment contains a lot of vomiting over the side of a boat), while the most thematically interesting show previewed, “White Collar Brawlers,” is also the most potentially disturbing: A “Fight Club”-like conceit, in which office mates train and eventually box against each other.

Granted, TV has a lot of putting-people-through-physical-ordeal shows, but most don’t culminate in pummeling the person who regularly sits in the cubicle next to you. That said, it’s one of the few programs in the opening Esquire portfolio that look provocative enough to generate some buzz.

Esquire will have access to lots of NBC Universal reruns (“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Burn Notice”) to augment its original efforts, but none of that answers the burning question of whether the channel’s niche is deep or well-defined enough to gain the necessary toehold with viewers.

As Variety‘s Brian Steinberg cogently suggested several months back, “Guys have always hunted and gathered. If I want to see someone gorge on barbecue, I can find ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.’ If I want sports, I’ve got umpteen options. Do I need everything on one network?”

Put another way, whatever equity resides in the Esquire brand, there’s a fundamental difference between wanting to read an article about a topic and actually sitting through a TV show devoted to it, as efforts to translate other magazines have discovered.

“It’s very bold, and it’s very confident,” Ilan Hall, a past winner of “Top Chef” and the proprietor of the restaurant in “Knife Fight,” says by way of describing a dish — as only a true foodie could appreciate — during the show’s Sept. 24 premiere.

Based strictly on this preview, Esquire gives off the impression that it might be a little too confident — and from a programming perspective, not bold enough.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Courtney Kemp Agboh'Power' TV show final

    'Power' Creator Courtney A. Kemp On Why Starz Series Hasn't Gotten Awards Recognition

    “Power” is a top ratings performer for Starz and has a hugely committed fanbase, but the series has lacked in its awards recognition. Other than honors from the NAACP Image Awards, “Power” has not received any awards or nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes or SAG — something that star and executive producer Curtis “50 [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Breaking Bad

    'Breaking Bad' Movie Release Date, Title and Plot Revealed

    The “Breaking Bad” movie is coming to Netflix sooner than you might think. The film, titled “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” is now set to be released on Netflix on Oct. 11, according to a report from the New York Times, with Aaron Paul returning as the series’ popular meth cook Jesse Pinkman. Jesse [...]

  • Laurence FishburneNational Memorial Day Concert Dress

    Laurence Fishburne to Produce 'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' Series for Disney Channel

    Laurence Fishburne is stepping into the animation game. The “Matrix” star is set to executive produce “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series which has been given the greenlight at Disney Channel. Based on Marvel’s comic book series, the show hails from from Disney Television Animation and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • 'The Simpsons' Producers on Disney, Spinoffs

    'The Simpsons' Producers Talk Potential Disney Spinoffs, Confirm Apu Will Remain

    “The Simpsons” has never shied away from lampooning Disney over the years, but maybe that’s no longer the case. Homer, Marge and co. are of course now part of the Disney family and made their first appearance at the Mouse House’s D23 Expo convention, where the show’s producers were asked plenty of questions about what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content