Warner Bros.’ crime-focused strip Crime Watch Daily is headed into season 2, and there will be some big changes.
Chris Hansen, best known for his “To Catch a Predator” series on Dateline NBC, will host the show, which now will be called Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen.
Hansen also will contribute his calling card to the show, adding a “Hansen vs. Predator” segment in which Hansen will sting men who are seeking sex with underage participants.
Already he and his team have done a shoot in which they caught 11 men in 3½ days, including a Boston-based insurance agent; a cable repairman who showed up with a loaded gun, duct tape, a knife and a camera in his vehicle; and a man Hansen happened to know personally from his train commute from Connecticut to New York City. “The landscape has changed from when we first started doing these investigations,” Hansen says. “There are so many more social platforms from which kids can be contacted. Everyone’s phone is their computer now.”
To lure the men, Hansen and his team post online decoys—people posing as underage targets—on social media and specific chat platforms. “It’s not really a set-up,” he says. “The online decoys go into various chat rooms. They have a profile with a picture that’s very unmistakably underage. They never make first contact; the predator has to make first contact and raise the specter of sex. With all of these different social platforms out there, it has made it much easier for these guys to operate.”
The show also is moving its center of production from Los Angeles, where it shot season one with host Matt Doran in a studio with reporters in the field, to New York, where Hansen will host from the streets of Manhattan or at inside locations if the weather is uncooperative.
Crime Watch Daily did well enough in season one to make it to a second season, but it has plenty of room to grow, averaging a 0.9 season-to-date rating in households and a 0.5 in daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54.
Beyond catching sexual predators, Hansen also will do interviews, such as one he just did with the family of Karina Vetrano of Queens, N.Y., a 30-year-old woman who was strangled when she went out for a jog and was discovered hours later.
“I think we’re going to try to get in the news more and not just cover breaking news but get inside the story to get the key interviews that perhaps no one else has access to. I think I can be helpful to Crime Watch Daily because of all the crime stories I’ve covered around the world,” says Hansen.
Doran, who came to Crime Watch Daily after making his name as a crime reporter in Australia, will remain with the show as a reporter. “You have never seen anyone in the field like Matt,” says Jeremy Spiegel, executive producer. “He’s a genius in the field at landing interviews and getting inside places no one else can.”
Crime Watch Daily’s team of reporters remains intact, with Ana Garcia in Los Angeles, Andrea Isom in Detroit, Jason Mattera in Seattle and Michelle Sigona in Washington, D.C. All of them are tasked with reporting on, finding and confronting criminals.
Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour — who was abducted at the age of 14, held captive for nine months and raped daily during that time — will become a regular contributor to the show, doing stories on sexual-assault cases and interviewing victims, says executive producer Scott Eldridge. Smart-Gilmour, who is now married and a mom, has become an activist and victims’ advocate and also has contributed to ABC News and written a book, My Story, about her experience.
In general, the show is switching its focus to cover more ambushes of bad guys, as well as murder cases, two areas which the ratings indicate are most interesting to viewers. “[Ratings] are so story-related,” says Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, senior executive producer. “We see the biggest ratings jump when we do stories about murders.”