Citing high operating costs, Fox Family Channel pulled the plug last month on its digital nets, the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel, barely 11 months after launching them.
‘In the current environment, it’s difficult to make digital channels work; you have to continue to invest a lot of time, money and resources. For a business like ours, we felt it made more sense to invest in Fox Family Channel, which has a lot of upside,’ says Tracy Lawrence, senior VP and GM of FFC.
While the channels’ concept (one network targeted its entire programming schedule to boys, the other to girls) struck many in the industry as taking niche-marketing to a ridiculous level, Lawrence believes the reasons for offering the services were and are still sound.
‘Girls are very underserved by television and, frankly, so are boys. Having one service that deals with the entire spectrum of girls issues, and another that deals with the entire spectrum of boys issues, allows you to serve both audiences better,’ she says.
Ultimately though, boys and girls (and their parents) didn’t buy in. According to published reports, since launching last October, each channel had attracted 100,000 subscribers-well short of FFC’s goal of one million. Lawrence, however, maintains the company was close to signing carriage deals that would have increased the audience size for both commercial-free nets considerably.