Court TV Tries On Legal Briefs

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Betting that shorter shows will keep viewers watching more, Court TV is developing a short-form programming block called Rapid Fire. The hour-long block, envisioned as four back-to-back 15-minute shows, is slated for late first quarter or early second quarter 2007.

The network is developing shows in the action and story genres with titles like "Mysterious Circumstances," mysteries told from the medical examiner’s point of view, and "Extreme Police Vehicles," profiles of hard-core law enforcement vehicles. Court envisions scheduling the block once weekly to start and then building it into a strip if all goes well.

With short-form video sites like YouTube skyrocketing in popularity, Court is hoping the shorter shows will appeal to viewers’ evolving media-consumption habits.

Says Marc Juris, Court general manager of programming and marketing, "We’re reinventing
and reengineering the way we tell stories to reflect how the audience is evolving."

Juris declines to reveal production costs for the shorter shows but says their production values would be on par with longer-form shows. Rapid Fire, he says, is "a broadband programming model with the scale and reach of cable."

Court is currently developing eight 15-minute shows for the block, which will carry the same commercial load as a 60-minute show, Juris says. The network is also looking to the block as an incubator for longer-series concepts, as well as for Web and mobile content. Court is just starting talks with advertisers on creative ways to integrate their products across each batch of shows.

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