Oxygen holds its “12 Dark Days of Serial Killers” event April 9-20. The stunt features new specials Catching a Serial Killer: Sam Little, about the man who confessed to a staggering 90 murders, and Snapped: Notorious Hollywood Ripper, about a man who preyed on women on their path to stardom in Los Angeles.
“12 Dark Days” programming also includes the season premiere of Mark of a Killer and the season finale of The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes.
Other serial stuff includes Serial Killer with Piers Morgan; Dateline: Secrets Uncovered and Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice.
Dave Kaplan, senior VP, strategic insights and research, lifestyle networks (Bravo, Oxygen, E! and Universal Kids), said 61% of the Oxygen audience is very interested in serial killers. “There’s continued interest in understanding the psychology of criminals,” he said. “There’s a ton of curiosity about understanding the motivations of these people. Viewers like to theorize/decode what makes them tick.”
Serial killers have consistently performed well on Oxygen since it became a true-crime network, according to Rod Aissa, executive VP, original programming, Oxygen and E! Production. “What brings someone to the point where they do what they do?” he said, noting how serial killers often come off as a “normal guy next door.”
Season two of Mark of a Killer begins April 9. It’s about killers who steal mementos from a murder scene, or leave some sort of signature there. “It’s not just about serial killers,” said Aissa. “It’s how they kill, why they kill and the mark they leave.”
The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes has its season finale April 11. Holes dives into unsolved homicides by examining the physical and emotional “DNA,” said Oxygen, left behind. With access to crime scene photographs, case files and evidence, Holes investigates each crime utilizing his unique set of skills.
The finale looks into the murder of an elementary school principal in California.
Catching a Serial Killer: Sam Little has its premiere April 12. Little, 78 at the time, confessed to murdering over 90 women across 35 years. “What fueled his deadly rampage?” Oxygen wonders.
Snapped: Notorious Hollywood Ripper premieres April 19. From 1993 to 2008, Michael Gargiulo stalked, befriended and murdered three young women, and attempted to kill a fourth. His victims were all charismatic and seeking stardom.
Oxygen has offered programming stunts before, including one around the longrunning series Snapped. But it has done “nothing at this scale,” said Kaplan.
Oxygen had the “Serial Killers” stunt in the works before the coronavirus pandemic struck. The network might benefit from people stuck at home watching TV, looking for a different kind of terror than the news offers. “People view it as an escape, a peek into a life they don’t experience,” said Kaplan.
Aissa sees it similarly. “It’s an escape from MSNBC and Fox News and local news,” he said. “I think it’s some escapism that people need right now."
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