Court TV will rebrand in July, losing its logo’s fingerprint and tag line, “The Investigation Channel,” and taking on a sleek, new blue-and-white logo and two new tag lines: “Court TV News” for daytime and “Court TV Seriously Entertaining” for prime time.
How seriously entertaining? Try a show based on the co-owned thesmokinggun.com Web site with its copies of the lawsuits, arrest reports, mug shots and other "police blotter documents of the stars" recreated using bobble-head dolls.
“We strongly believe in the maxim that all progress is change,” Court’s Chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff told reporters gathered for the network’s morning upfront presentations. “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.”
In prime, the new roof is what President and COO Art Bell calls its "brand continuum," emphasizing both serious and fun new series, with an effort to stress the entertainment value of it all.
But the fun and entertainment doesn't mean straying from the net's five top attributes in viewers’ minds: depth, credibility, expertise, truth and importance, says General Manager, Programming and Marketing, Marc Juris. New prime-time series include:
- LA Forensics, a look inside real case files in LAPD’s Scientific Investigation Division.
- Under Investigation, a half-hour series in partnership with NBC News on unsolved cases.
- Five Days, a series on the Major Case Squad, an agency that assists local law enforcement in solving murder, sexual assault, armed robbery and arson cases.
- Get Me Bruce Cutler!, a realty series in which Court drops a defender of dons into small town America to argue lesser known cases.
- Las Vegas Law (aka Bucky Buchanan), a reality show on a go-to lawyer for Vegas criminals.
- High Stakes with Ben Mezrich, a reality show in which the best-selling author of Bringing Down the House exposes the dark lives of the young, rich and famous.
- Parco, PI, a comedy/reality hybrid in which dysfunctional family of New York-based sleuths recreate their zaniest “Grisham-like” cases.
- Casino Takedown, a reality show in which con men go undercover to test casino security.
- The Smoking Gun, a limited series in which documents from the Court TV-owned web site are recreated by bobblehead dolls and cartoons.
Court will also launch a new public service and education initiative “In Pursuit of Justice” to raise awareness of judicial and social issues.
The Time Warner and Liberty Media Corp.-owned network, which is reporting nearly $200 million in ad revenue this year and a 45% increase in national ad revenue from 2003 to 2004 (hence Schlieff's "sun shining" reference), inked deals with 59 new national advertisers in 2004, according to Charlie Collier, EVP and GM of ad sales.
In a cluttered landscape, Collier says the network stands out during upfront season for its level of viewer involvement, which he calculates as audience retention multiplied by audience attention. Sticking to the formula, Collier estimates Court’s viewers are "66% involved" in the programming.
In focusing on demonstrating ROI (return on investment) to advertisiers, the network last year spearheaded a “Return on Investigation” initiative to develop uniform solutions for determining ROI, and this year has assembled a team of media agency researchers to continue the investigation.