In a highly unusual move for an established network, Court TV is about to sign a partnership agreement with the Endeavor talent agency.
In a deal described by sources as a short-term (“one to two years”) renewable contract, Endeavor will help Court TV convert its trademark crime coverage into scripted projects for other networks and mediums.
“It’s all part of a strategic initiative to take what is clearly a growing brand and expand it to its full potential,” said Henry Schleiff, Court TV chairman and CEO. “Virtually everything we do is reality-based. So the opportunity arises to take some of our documentaries and use them as the basis for other projects. It may be movies, it may be books, it may be scripted dramas-which we don’t typically do.”
For example, a Court TV documentary on the Scott Peterson trial could be packaged with an Endeavor writer and producer to launch a scripted telepic for a broadcast network. In most cases, such deals are worked through agencies on a case-by-case basis. Solidifying a partnership between an established network and a single top agency, however, is highly unusual.
Mr. Schleiff emphasized Endeavor will not represent the network in all ventures, only in finding new revenue streams for previously produced content.
“The short answer is [partnering] provides greater accountability,” Mr. Schleiff said. “I want to know that they’re thinking about us, that we’re being discussed in their meetings.”
Endeavor co-founder Rick Rosen said he was “absolutely thrilled” with the agreement.
“They have access to a tremendous amount of stories and life rights and our goal is to utilize these,” Mr. Rosen said. “We look forward to helping them in any way we can to extend their brand.”
A representative at another agency, however, said the agreement could backfire for Court TV by restricting access to talent represented by Endeavor’s rivals.
Mr. Schleiff acknowledged alienating Endeavor’s competitors was an initial concern.”But it’s been very assuaged because the most common thing is for agencies to split fees,” Mr. Schleiff said. “We’re hoping agencies will go where they can be most successful.”
Mr. Rosen agreed. “I don’t think they’re going to forfeit an opportunity,” he said. “It’s true when you’re talking about a general network-ABC or CBS isn’t going to align themselves [with one agency]. But Court TV is more targeted. Their goals are different.”
For both parties, the move is a bit of an experiment. Mr. Schleiff said the network has an option to renew its Endeavor contract within two years if the partnership doesn’t work out; Mr. Rosen said Endeavor is always seeking strong brands to represent, but signing cable networks is “not part of a particular business plan.” Mr. Schleiff said Endeavor is currently attempting to generate interest in three Court TV projects, but he declined to specify the properties.