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Lifetime is an American pay television channel that is part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, a subsidiary of A&E Networks, which is jointly owned by Hearst Communications and The Walt Disney Company. It features programming that is geared toward women or features women in lead roles. As of January 2016, it is received by 93.8 million households in America.
Lifetime airs a mix of original broadcast content – which comprise film, reality (such as Dance Moms and Preachers’ Daughters), dramatic programming (such as Devious Maids and Witches of East End), and second-run syndicated series (such as How I Met Your Mother and Grey’s Anatomy). The network 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.”
In the past, Lifetime used to air several game shows in daytime and early evenings, including Supermarket Sweep, Shop ’til You Drop, Rodeo Drive, Born Lucky, 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. 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,although special feature episodes continued to air intermittently on Fox. Lifetime aired more than 40 new episodes of the program before cancelling it in 2013.
In January 2018, Lifetime announced its intention to film Harry & Meghan: The Royal Love Story, a story about the relationship between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Lifetime airs many films 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 on Lifetime Movies (a spin-off pay television channel that was launched in 1998; formerly Lifetime Movie Network). The channel also produces its own television films as Lifetime Pictures.
In its early years, Lifetime occasionally broadcast coverage of women’s professional sports. From its inaugural season in 1997 to 2000, Lifetime was one of three broadcasters of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), alongside NBC and ESPN. In 2000, Lifetime phased out its live broadcasts and replaced them with an original series documenting the lives of WNBA players. The network stated that it wanted to focus on “stories” rather than event coverage; Lifetime transferred its package of games to ESPN2.As part of an arrangement with Raycom Sports, the network also broadcast the LPGA’s Tournament of Champions in 1998.
In February 2017, A&E Networks acquired an equity stake in the National Women’s Soccer League, and announced that Lifetime would broadcast a weekly, Saturday-afternoon game beginning in the 2017 season.