Court TV Is Going by Book for Promo

Nov 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Court TV is throwing the bookstore at crime novel readers.

The network is teaming with Barnes & Noble to push its new six-week limited series “Murder by the Book,” which features top authors’ takes on their favorite real-life crime stories. It premieres Nov. 13.

Commercials for Barnesandnoble.com will air on Court TV through the end of the holiday season and on the Court TV Web site. Meanwhile, “Murder by the Book” will be promoted in Barnes & Noble’s 500-plus stores and with video on the bookseller’s Web site.

“Murder by the Book” is Court TV’s tentpole program for November. “It’s a classic Court TV program format with a twist in that the author becomes your guide,” said Marc Juris, general manager of programming and marketing for the network. He said re-enactments, documentary footage and news clips will be combined to retell the stories with the authors’ point of view about what made each particular real crime compelling.

Most of the authors-James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman and Lisa Scottoline-“watch Court TV religiously, and we’re in subject matter that is very close to their heart,” Mr. Juris said.

Those authors have sold 140 million books between them, which means they bring a broad fan base to the party, and Court TV has extensive plans to urge fans to tune in.

A big part of the plan is the tie in with Barnes & Noble. “It’s about converting a mystery-book lover to a Court TV viewer, and it’s about converting a Court TV viewer into a mystery-Tuesday with an event featuring all five authors at the Barnes & Noble store in New York’s Union Square. “This [promotion] made so much sense because the whole series revolves around books and authors,” said Len Gilbert, VP of marketing for Barnes & Noble. “It’s something that our customers would not only want to hear about, but would want to hear about from us.”

Court TV will promote the show with spots on its own air and on its new Turner Broadcasting sister networks. It is also buying spots on local cable, DirecTV and EchoStar, radio spots and print ads, including a bookmark that will be inserted into copies of Entertainment Weekly that urges viewers to stop reading and start watching “Murder by the Book.”

Court TV also has created Web-only episodes with the authors that will be available online from iTunes.

For audio ads, the network is trying something new called the AudioBeam directional loudspeaker, with precisely focused audio messages that only people standing at certain spots in bookstores, cafes and elevators can hear. (The messages urge listeners to seek help if they continue to hear voices after they move along.)

Mr. Juris, speaking from Atlanta where he was meeting with his new boss, Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said that “Murder by the Book” has the potential to become an “unlimited series.” The network is already talking to other authors and a decision on whether to make more episodes will be made shortly after the premiere, he said.

After it was acquired by Time Warner in June, Court TV became part of Turner. The deal touched off the departure of several top executives and the layoff of staff in ad sales, affiliate sales, human resources and public relations.

Mr. Juris said he now expects Turner to bring programming and marketing resources to help the network grow. And the New York-based executive plans to spend more time in Atlanta, “especially now that it’s winter.”