Court TV Locks Up Prime Demo

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Marc Juris has good timing.

Court TV’s general manager for programming and marketing in January launched a new 8 p.m. block of action shows called RED, which stands for “Real. Exciting. Dramatic.” Since then, prime-time ratings have climbed.

The network is having its most-watched year so far, with delivery up 12 percent among viewers 18 to 49 and up 18 percent among men 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research data. So far this summer, viewers 18 to 49 are up 20 percent from a year ago during the 8 p.m. block.

The numbers should make his new bosses at Turner Entertainment happy.

“That’s always a good thing,” said Mr. Juris.

Court TV started reporting to Turner after Time Warner acquired the 50 percent of the networks it didn’t already own from Liberty Media for $735 million in May.

Since then, Turner has eliminated or reduced several departments, including ad sales, affiliate relations, human resources, legal and public relations.

But in programming and marketing, Mr. Juris said it’s been more or less business as usual. The network, which airs 350 episodes of original programming a year, is launching two new shows this month: “Under Fire” and “Missing Persons Unit.”

Court TV doesn’t have to get approval from Turner executives to get a green light, Mr. Juris said, but some things are different. “Anytime you have change, it takes time to reorient yourself,” he said.

He’s been letting Turner people know about Court TV’s promotional plans. “There are so many great assets there,” he said. “The more people who know about your promotion, the more people who can help.”

Court TV started programming entertainment shows in prime time after Henry Schleiff took over as CEO in 1998, and it began attracting more viewers and ad dollars. A year ago, Court TV rebranded, separating its daytime trial coverage, dubbed “Court TV News,” from its prime-time programming, which it markets as “Seriously entertaining.”

“The only way they could grow their audience was to get away from just trial coverage,” said Shari Anne Brill, VP of programming for media agency Carat. “Their programming has really come into its own.”

Mr. Schleiff stepped down from the CEO post at the time the Time Warner deal went through, but continues to serve as nonexecutive chairman.

This year, Court TV started televising original action shows at 8 p.m. to differentiate itself from the reruns of the various versions of “Law & Order” and “CSI” that are prevalent on cable.

“We felt that real-life, high-stakes action would be a great counterprogramming measure,” Mr. Juris said.

Those shows tended to attract a younger, more male-skewing audience than the network was accustomed to.

Those new viewers have been sticking around to watch the network’s more traditional storytelling prime-time series, including “Forensic Files” “Psychic Detectives” and “Body of Evidence.”