There's a new cable channel coming to town this spring, and it wants to teach you how to shave. It wants to teach you how to go on dates, how to tell good stories and how to wear nice clothes. If this sounds a lot like Esquire magazine that's because the new channel is the Esquire Network. But it's a whole thing, says David Carey, president of Esquire publisher Hearst Magazines. "This is not the magazine on TV; that would not work," Carey told Bill Carter at The New York Times. "The idea is to capture the essence of the magazine." Adam Stotsky, the general manager of the new Esquire Network, articulated what that essence is quite simply: "The modern man, what being a man today is all about."
This is hardly a new idea in television. All kinds of companies have tried going after the male market, from Spike TV (originally known as The Nashville Network) to Discovery's Velocity Channel aimed at rich men to G4, the video gaming channel that will become the Esquire Network on April 22. Rumors that Hearst and G4's owners NBCUniversal have been floating around entertainment news crowds at least since last December, when The Hollywood Reporter said that the two were in talks rebrand G4 as the Esquire Channel, "which will look to court metrosexual viewers that History and Spike ignore, will include programming focused on gaming and lifestyle." Deadline Hollywood similarly reported that NBCUniversal was aiming "to keep the male-centric nature of [G4] but make it more upscale and sophisticated, which is what Esquire is about."
In his Sunday night scoop, Carter more or less confirmed what had been reported before. NBCUniversal is set to announce the new Esquire Network, which one NBC executive called "an upscale Bravo for men," on Monday. Whereas most channels try to appeal to men, in Stotsky's words, with "down-market shows [about] tattoos or pawn shops or storage lockers or axes or hillbillies," the Esquire Network will have shows about cooking, fashion, politics, and so forth. One of the network's first original programs is a reality cooking show called "Knife Fight" — men love fights — and it will also show episodes of "Parks and Recreation" — men love nature, too.
In a way, everybody wins. Sophisticated men get a new TV-watching solution. NBCUniversal gets a hip brand that helps them target sophisticated (read: affluent) TV-watching men. And Hearst gets to expand its empire. As A.V. Club's Sean O'Neal explained back in December, "Esquire publisher Hearst already has stakes in cable networks Lifetime, A&E, History, and ESPN, so it seems fitting it would seize this opportunity to finally develop its own outlet through which it can talk about chambray pocket squares and $8,000 pea coats 24 hours a day, in between Cops reruns."