Court TV Shows Serious, Not-So-Serious Sides In Upfront Pitch

It pays to know when to lighten up and when to button up--or so Court TV concludes.

Judging that it could better position its distinctly different daytime--where the emphasis is on "news"--and nighttime--separate emphasis on "entertainment"--schedules, Court TV has sentenced itself to be divided into two, executives said at the network's upfront presentation in New York on Tuesday.

The change recognizes the different interests of viewers and advertisers, said Art Bell, president and chief operating officer of Court TV. So, from here on in, the daytime will largely offer serious news fare, while the evening schedule will feature investigation-related series and documentaries, issue-related movies, and reality-based entertainment aimed at younger viewers, all under the tagline: "Court TV--Seriously Entertaining."

As part of its expansion into the entertainment arena, some of the new series coming in prime time include "Casino Takedown," a reality series where thieves try to cheat real casinos; "LA Forensics," a look into the Los Angeles Police Department's crime lab; "Get Me Bruce Cutler!," featuring the late John Gotti's favorite legal eagle defending lesser known--and less rich--defendants from across small-town America; and finally, "Parco PI," about a family of private investigators.



In addition to touting its new shows and new bifurcated schedule, Court TV execs sought to highlight its "Return On Investigation" initiative. Instead of solving of a crime, the network is spearheading a research project in an attempt to grant advertisers and media buyers more accountability for their spending.

As for its numbers, Charlie Collier, executive vice president and general manager for ad sales at Court TV, noted that viewership has increased for six consecutive years.

"Our nightly average of 362,000 viewers represents a growth of 326 percent since 1999," Collier said, adding that Court TV saw a 45 percent increase in revenue from 2003 to 2004 and had 59 new advertisers sign on, including Campbell's Soup, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Prudential, and Visa.

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