The digital cable network was quietly shut down on Wednesday, part of an ongoing streamlining of NBCUniversal’s cable portfolio. The end of Cloo follows NBCU’s previously announced plans to shut down Esquire Network this year.
Cloo’s demise also comes as NBCUniversal announced plans to rebrand Oxygen into a crime-oriented programming format. But insiders said the two weren’t necessarily related; Cloo was shuttered after it lost distribution on Charter’s Spectrum cable systems (which now includes Time Warner Cable). Cloo had already been dropped by other providers, including Dish Network.
The demise of Cloo is actually part of a larger “end of an era” story for cable: Cloo was the successor to Trio, a channel still fondly remembered for its scrappy pop culture programming (including franchises like “Brilliant But Canceled”). Much of the Trio programming ethos was later moved to Bravo, and Trio was shut down in 2006. In its place, NBCUniversal offered the crime drama channel Sleuth, which was later renamed “Cloo” in 2011.
Cloo’s original programming mix included movies and repeats of series like “NCIS,” “JAG,” “House,” “Monk,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Walker: Texas Ranger.” More recently, Cloo aired a grab bag of fare from the NBCUniversal library, a further sign that the channel had fallen off the radar. In 2016, the channel averaged 51,000 viewers in primetime — down 23% from the year before.
Ultimately, Cloo was shut down with little fanfare. The channel’s Twitter feed was deleted, and its website redirected to USA Network’s homepage. Cloo didn’t air any original content, so the impact on producers and NBCU staff is minimal.
Several channels have shut down over the past year as the cable industry prepares for an uncertain future in the wake of so-called “skinny bundles” (cable packages with fewer channels) and the growth of cord-cutting. Besides Cloo and Esquire, recent channel demises include Pivot and Al Jazeera America.
As for the Oxygen shift, that channel – which originally launched in 2000 as a destination for women viewers, had been moving in a crime direction for some time. Its “Crime Time” weekend block was moved to four days a week (Friday – Monday), and the channel has added new fare such as “Three Days to Live,” Dick Wolf’s “Cold Justice” and more.
“The recent expansion of our ‘Crime Time’ weekend block has enjoyed double-digit gains and has really resonated with our female audience,” said Frances Berwick, President, Lifestyle Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “Oxygen has always played in this space with the highly successful original series ‘Snapped,’ one of the longest running crime series on television now approaching its 20th season. With a lot of high quality projects in development, we believe our current fans, as well as all arm chair detectives, have good reason to be excited.”