Charter to drop NBCU’s Chiller and Esquire

Esquire
The demise of Chiller and Esquire represent a larger trend to cull (or at least de-emphasize) struggling linear networks. Image: Esquire

Charter Communications has begun notifying customers that it will no longer carry NBCUniversal-owned channels Chiller or Esquire starting on April 25, according to TV business pundit Phillip Swann.

Esquire is being phased out as a cable network by NBCU and will soon exist as a digital channel. But an NBCU spokesperson told Swann the Comcast-owned conglomerate has no plans to shutter 24-hour horror-themed network Chiller. 

Charter reps didn’t immediately respond to FierceCable’s inquiry for comment.

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RELATED: The demise of Spike and Esquire could signal the end of male-targeted channels

The loss of carriage on the No. 2 U.S. cable operator is a major blow for Chiller, which reported penetration for only around a third of U.S. pay-TV homes as of two years ago. Dish Network also dropped Chiller on February 1.

Last month, NBCU shuttered mystery-themed cable channel Cloo (formerly “Slueth”) largely due to lack of MVPD coverage. The decision to downgrade Esquire, meanwhile, was made after AT&T dropped the channel from DirecTV and U-verse, resulting in the loss of 15 million pay-TV homes. 

As FierceBroadcasting’s Ben Munson recently observed, the demise of Chiller and Esquire represent a larger trend to cull (or at least de-emphasize) struggling linear networks. 

Viacom, for example, recently shuttered male targeted channel Spike TV. The struggling conglomerate now plans include six core networks—BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount—meaning that the programmer’s other networks, including VH1, CMT, Logo and more, can count on less love and support moving forward.

RELATED: Comcast's Burke: Smaller cable channels are going bye-bye

Speaking to investors last summer, NBCU CEO Steve Burke signaled that such a culling of the herd was at hand. 

"You'll see us and others trimming channels," Burke said. "There are just too many networks."