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Lifetime Television

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Lifetime Television

Launched February 1, 1984 (1984-02-01)
Owned by A+E Networks
(Hearst Corporation (50%)
The Walt Disney Company (50%))
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Country United States
Broadcast area National
Headquarters New York City, New York
Sister channel(s) Lifetime Movie Network
Lifetime Real Women
The Biography Channel
DirecTV 252 (HD/SD)
Dish Network 108 (HD/SD)
Available on most U.S. cable providers Check local listings
Verizon FiOS 140 (SD)
640 (HD)
AT&T U-verse 360 (SD)
1360 (HD)

Lifetime is an American cable and satellite television channel that is part of A+E Networks, which is jointly owned by the Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.[1] The channel features programming that is geared toward women or features women in lead roles.

As of August 2013, approximately 98,251,000 American households (86.03% of households with television) receive Lifetime.[2]


Beginnings (1984–1988)

Lifetime was established on February 1, 1984 as the result of a merger of Hearst's and Capital Cities/ABC's Daytime network (which launched in March 1982 as a four-hour per day service with women's programming) and Viacom's Cable Health Network (which launched in June 1982 as a 24-hour service that carried health and wellness programming).[3] A board for the new network was formed with equal representation from Hearst, ABC and Viacom, and the board elected Thomas Burchill as the new network's first CEO.[4] It was not an initial success, reportedly losing $36 million in its first two years of operation, and did not become profitable until 1986.[5] The channel suffered from low viewership, with a poll reportedly finding that some TV viewers erroneously believed it carried religious content.[5]

Patricia Fili-Krushel era (1988–1992)

In 1988, Lifetime hired Patricia Fili-Krushel (then known as Patricia Fili) as its head of programming.[5] In the first three years of her tenure, she changed 60 percent of Lifetime's programming, by her own estimate.[5] In addition to overhauling Lifetime's signature talk show, Attitudes, by hiring a new producer and refocusing it on current women's issues, Fili acquired the rights to syndicated network hits like Moonlighting and L.A. Law, and oversaw the production of the first Lifetime movies ever made.[4] The network also showed movies from the portfolios of its owners, Hearst, ABC, and Viacom.[4] In 1991, reporter Joshua Hammer stated, "Considered one of cable TV's backwaters, [...] Lifetime network was replete with annoying gabfests for housewives and recycled, long-forgotten network television series, such as 'Partners in Crime' and 'MacGruder and Loud.' [...] Under Fili's direction, Lifetime has gone a long way toward shedding its low-rent image."[5]

"Television for Women" comes of age (1993–2004)

In late 1992, Thomas Burchill announced that he was stepping down as head of Lifetime. There were two candidates for his position put in front of the board: Fili-Krushel, who at that time was the senior vice president of original programming; and Douglas McCormick, the executive vice president of sales.[4] In February 1993, the board elected Douglas McCormick as Lifetime's chief executive officer.[6] Fili-Krushel subsequently left to become president of ABC Daytime, where she was instrumental in launching the show The View, and later became president of the ABC network.[7]

Some outside groups felt that a woman should have been named the head of the network instead of McCormick, especially since there were currently no women on the board of Hearst/Viacom Entertainment Services.[6] In response to such criticism, McCormick said, "When somebody questions my right, that is not only sexist, it is illegal. As my friend Gloria Steinem says, 'Sexism against men is no less sexism.' Certainly, Lifetime is about trying to eliminate sexism in all areas.''[8] Under McCormick's direction, Lifetime began airing a limited amount of women's sports coverage, including the WNBA and the America's Cup, in which it sponsored the first women's crew team to compete.[4] McCormick also strengthened the network's ties with women's organizations such as the National Organization of Women, and began airing public service announcements about women's issues, such as breast cancer awareness.[4] Lifetime also adopted a new tagline. "Lifetime – Television for Women."[4]

Meanwhile, McCormick guided the channel's original programming so that it was aimed not just as women aged 24–44, but these women's spouses, who research showed watched the network in the evenings with their wives. This was done by making the male characters in Lifetime's original programming – such as the film series Spencer for Hire – more appealing to men by making them more masculine and in-charge than in previous Lifetime movies, which usually featured women protagonists on their own.[4] This helped Lifetime take advantage of a known bias in the Nielsen ranking system that favored "upscale" couples who shared a television set.[4] By January 1995, Lifetime was the sixth most-highly-rated cable network by Nielsen.[4]

In April 1994, Viacom sold its share of Lifetime to its original partners in the venture, the Hearst Corporation and Capital Cities/ABC.[3] Each company now had an equal share in the network.[4] In 1995, The Walt Disney Company acquired Capital Cities/ABC.[9]

In 1996, TCI, one of the United States' largest cable providers, announced that it would no longer carry Lifetime in certain markets to make room for the soon-to-be-launched Fox News Channel, in which TCI held a financial stake.[10] According to Lifetime executives, the network stood to lose up to one million subscribers due to TCI's move.[10] However, Lifetime published advertisements in some of the markets that would be affected – including Eugene, Oregon and Newport, Rhode Island – informing customers that TCI was removing the only network that was made for women.[4] After TCI customers called the company to complain, TCI cut back the number of homes that would lose Lifetime to approximately 300,000.[10] Still, women's groups and politicians rallyed behind Lifetime.[10] Colorado representative Patricia Schroeder called TCI's decision a "power play" between TCI chief executive John Malone and Fox executive Rupert Murdoch, and said, "Women kind of feel like they're being rolled over so that the guys who run these companies can make more money."[10]

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank said that the decision showed that Fox "might have an agenda of its own that is anti-woman."[10] TCI executives were surprised and angry about the public's reaction. TCI vice president of programming, was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "I resent the implication that they are the women's network. Other networks come in to us and say Lifetime is not telling the truth. Lifetime is a women's channel only in name and advertising. [...] It programs for ratings." TCI senior vice president Robert Thomson stated that the reaction was "laughably out of scale," based on the fact that less than 10 percent of Lifetime's audience would be affected. TCI executives chalked the politicians' reactions up to lobbying by Lifetime and it being an election year, and suggested to the Times that in retaliation, Disney (one of Lifetime's parent companies), may have trouble launching a new network on TCI.[10] In 1997, it was reported that Lifetime had 67.7 million subscribers.[8]

In July 1998, Lifetime created the spin-off network Lifetime Movie Network (or LMN).[11] Variety praised the move as "capitalizing on the expected channel boom from TV’s conversion to digital distribution over the next few years."[12] However, it only reached 3 million of the 70 million cable subscribers in the U.S. at the time.[11]

In November 1998, it was announced that CEO Douglas McCormick's contract would not be renewed when it was up at the end of the year.[13] Although Lifetime staff members reportedly were "dumbfounded" because the network had been so financially successful during McCormick's tenture, board members wanted someone who would "bring more vision" to the company.[13] Board members reportedly were so insistent upon hiring a woman to replace McCormick that at one point during negotiations when his contract was about to expire, McCormick threatened to bring an sex-discrimination lawsuit against them, but decided against it.[14]

Rebranding (2004–2008)

In April 2004, Lifetime launched Lifetime Radio for Women, a daily nationally syndicated four-hour morning show mixing adult contemporary music, live caller interaction, celebrity guests and lively discussions about the topics relating to women. In partnership with Jones Radio Networks, the service aired Monday to Friday from 5 to 9 a.m. or 6 to 10 a.m., depending on the market.

In 2006, Lifetime dropped the signature slogan Television for Women that had been in use by the network since 1995. On March 31, 2005, Betty Cohen, previously an executive at Turner Broadcasting System, was named CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services.[15] The cable network launched a new look and tagline on July 16, 2006 with the launch of the (now-defunct) original series Angela's Eyes, using a new logo and promotions with the tagline My story is on Lifetime. In 2008, a brand new logo made its debut as part of another major rebranding with the introduction of a brand new slogan, Connect. Play. Share.

A&E acquires Lifetime (2009–present)

On August 27, 2009, A&E Television Networks, the owner of A&E and History, among other cable channels, acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services.[16][17] Though the channel is owned by another subsidiary company operated as a joint venture, Lifetime and its cable networks remain under the co-ownership of The Walt Disney Company and the Hearst Corporation, though NBC Universal became partial owner of the Lifetime channels for a time as well since that company already was a part owner of A&E Television Networks; this 15% stake from NBCUniversal was later sold to Disney and Hearst.

Nancy Dubuc became Lifetime's president and general manager in April 2010.[18]


Lifetime currently airs original television programming including movies, reality shows (such as Dance Moms and Preachers' Daughters) and scripted dramas (such as original series Army Wives, Devious Maids, and Drop Dead Diva). It also airs off-network syndicated programs (such as Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, and Grey's Anatomy). Lifetime states that it "is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families."[1]

The network used to air several game shows in daytime and early evenings, including Supermarket Sweep, Shop 'Til You Drop, and Debt. Lifetime also produced one original game show (Who Knows You Best?, starring Gina St. John), with a format based on The Newlywed Game; it was canceled after one season.

Lifetime has also purchased the rights to programs that originally aired on broadcast networks and produced new episodes. In 1988, it bought the rights to the existing 26 episodes of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd from its original broadcaster NBC, and produced 13 additional episodes of the series. Lifetime did not renew the show reportedly because of low ratings and the high cost to produce the program.[5] In late 2011, the network began to air new episodes of America's Most Wanted, a program canceled in series form by Fox at the end of the 2010–11 season[19] (special feature episodes continued to air intermittently on Fox). Lifetime aired more than 40 new episodes of the program before cancelling it in 2013.[19]

Lifetime Movies

Lifetime airs many movies targeted to women – made-for-television films produced for the channel as well as those previously broadcast on other networks, and some feature films, both on the main network (and largely airing on weekends) and on Lifetime Movie Network (a spin-off digital cable and satellite channel that was launched in 1998).

International versions


Main article: Lifetime (Canada)

On May 30, 2012, Shaw Media announced that it would rebrand Showcase Diva, a Category B digital specialty channel as the Canadian version of Lifetime under a licensing agreement with A+E Networks; Showcase Diva relaunched as Lifetime on August 27, 2012.[20]

Latin America

Lifetime announced the launch of a Latin American version of the network, which is slated to launch in 2013.[21]

United Kingdom

Main article: Lifetime (UK and Ireland)

A+E Networks UK will launch a version of Lifetime for the UK and Ireland in November 2013.[22] The shows announced to be airing on the channel are The Client List, Damages the Lifetime U.S. original movie, Liz & Dick, and an original series called The Proposers.[23]

Network slogans

  • "Lifetime Medical Television" (1984–1985)
  • "Talk Television" (1985–1995)
  • "TV That Has America Talking" (secondary slogan, 1985–1995)
  • "Television for Women" (1995–2006)
  • "My Story is on Lifetime" (2006–2008)
  • "Connect. Play. Share." (2008–2012)
  • "Your Life. Your Time." (2012–present)

In popular culture

An episode of Family Guy once parodied the network's most notable slogan ("Television for Women"), calling it "Lifetime: Television for Idiots"; "Movin' Out (Brian's Song)", a later episode of that series, showed one of the main characters watching a film which oversimplified the themes commonly featured in the channel's made-for-cable movies starring Valerie Bertinelli called Men are Terrible and Will Hurt You Because This is Lifetime.[24]


External links

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