These are treacherous times for small cable networks, with Time Warner Cable’s recent scrapping of low-rated Ovation among the indications that the fight for survival is getting tougher. The one thing that can put a channel over the top is a hit show.
That’s one reason NBCUniversal’s Oxygen is feeling the heat as its latest envelope-pushing attempt to come up with a hit — a reality series called “All My Babies’ Mamas” — comes under pressure even before its debut.
The New York Post reports that the series — about an Atlanta rapper who lives with the 10 different mothers of his 11 children — is drawing fire from the Parents Television Council, among other groups.
The watchdog PTC, whose lobbying appeared to play a role in MTV’s cancellation of "Skins," criticized the Oxygen show as "being built around a ridiculous set of self-destructive behaviors that Oxygen is going to promote and glorify.”
“All My Babies’ Mamas” is also the focus of a petition on Change.org seeking the show’s cancellation, which has received 22,000 signatures in two weeks, the story says.
The series, featuring rapper Shawty Lo and women with nicknames including “Jealous” and “First Lady,” is scheduled to premiere in spring.
Said Sabrina Lamb, the New Yorker who is behind the Change.org petition: “It was the exploitation of children. We have choices; children don’t. We’re embarrassing ourselves.”
According to cable-branding expert Gary Lico, the stakes are high for Oxygen — as they are for other channels. Said Lico: “They need the next big hit, the next headline maker.”
Like Ovation, Oxygen is also low-rated, the piece notes. “Its total viewership in prime time took a slight dip in 2012 over 2011 and, according to Nielsen figures, pulled in 377,000 viewers last year versus 397,000 viewers the prior year,” the Post reports.
Oxygen is reportedly sticking with the show, which comes from DiGa Vision — “run by Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley, the MTV network executives who helped make ‘Jersey Shore’ a success,” the report notes.
But the piece adds that Oxygen reportedly did recently remove a trailer for “AMBM” from YouTube.