Court TV Taking on More Action

Jan 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Marc Juris can’t get enough action.

Court TV’s general manager for programming and marketing has ordered a new show from shock video producer Bruce Nash for the network’s red-hot “Real. Exciting. Dramatic.” programming block.

The performance of the “R.E.D.” block of action-oriented shows at 8 p.m. ET has exceeded expectations and boosted Court TV’s entire schedule during prime time, which is when the network earns the vast majority of its advertising dollars.

“We all know how hard it is to move numbers substantially in this world,” Mr. Juris said. But R.E.D. has had a huge impact since its debut a year ago. At 8 p.m., Court finished 2006 as the 13th-ranked network among adults 18 to 49, a big jump from its 21st-place ranking a year ago. (The figure excludes Thursday nights, when the network aired a movie.)

Overall, Court TV-acquired last year by Time Warner and now part of Turner Broadcasting-finished the year as the 22nd-ranked network in terms of total viewers in prime time, up 7 percent in viewers from 2005. That made last year the most-watched in the channel’s history.

“We were really pleased when it opened strong and continued to deliver,” Mr. Juris said. “In fact, it really helped to improve our entire schedule.”

Nash Entertainment’s “Most Shocking,” a show made from exhilarating and explosive clips obtained from law enforcement and other sources, joined the R.E.D. block in October and took off. It has averaged more than 1 million viewers and doubled the network’s audience of 18- to 49 year-old viewers in the time slot.

Mr. Nash, president and CEO of the company, said new episodes of “Most Shocking” should be ready in March, and Mr. Juris has ordered a second show from Mr. Nash for R.E.D. called “Most Dangerous.”

The new show, due later this year, puts a twist on “Most Shocking” by featuring the people who might have been involved in the incidents that make up the original show and asking them what was the most dangerous situation they were ever in.

“For them, the bar is pretty high,” Mr. Juris said. “If they’re feeling something is dangerous, it’s got to be pretty compelling.”

Mr. Nash said he will be telling the stories using the real video “because everybody who watches these shows wants to see that.” That footage will be augmented with re-enactments and first-person interviews.

“We’ll be able to tell a bigger story than we could with just the conventional footage,” he said.

Court TV is a good fit for these shows because of the goodwill the network has with law enforcement, Mr. Nash said. It’s also a good fit for Mr. Nash, who got degrees in criminology from Florida State University. He notes that the cops featured always live to tell their tales.

“It was important that we celebrate the heroic officers that put their lives on the line every day because I personally respect these people.”

Mr. Nash, who pioneered the genre with “World’s Most Amazing Videos” on NBC in 1999, thinks these clip shows might be enjoying a revival with Court TV airing two shows and “World’s Most Amazing Videos” getting new life on Spike.

“You watch the news channels when they run one of these clips and they play it over and over and over. And why? Because people can’t get enough of that,” he said. “But what we do is we tell stories around it. It’s not enough to show gratuitous violence. It needs to be a story and it needs to have a hero and a villain and on Court TV, the cops get the bad guys.”

While the action shows in “R.E.D.” have drawn viewers, the block won’t expand into the rest of prime time, when the network runs its more cerebral, forensics-oriented shows, or supplant its daytime court coverage, Mr. Juris said.

“Our goal is to give audiences a wide range of program choices and the verite action of R.E.D. is only one of them,” Mr. Juris said.