USA Cable readies to launch Crime channel

The success of Court TV has already lured the likes of Ed Hersh, A&E's former VP of documentary programming. Now, USA Networks' Barry Diller is betting Crime will pay.
March 21, 2001

Cops creator John Langley and USA Cable have teamed up to launch Crime, a new digital channel set to premiere this fall. In preparation for the launch, USA has acquired Langley’s website to act as the online component of the channel. Doug Lee, CEO of, will serve as general manager of the new channel.

Programming for the channel will include original series, reality shows and police dramas. Langley is currently at work on two series titled CrimeScene (w/t) and Police Beat (w/t). The former is a weekly talk show that will look at the relationship between crime and society by speaking with victims, convicts, legal experts and activists. The latter will follow police detectives through crime scene investigations and will air Monday to Friday. In addition to its original series, Crime will take advantage of USA’s library of feature films that draw on the genre, including Carlito’s Way, Dead Man Walking and Con Air. To enhance the synergy between online and on-air, will receive an interface-lift, and new content features will be added.

Patrick Vien, president of emerging networks for USA Cable, says Crime will utilize USA Networks production resources, but will not shut out the independent community: ‘We will be reaching out to both distributors and producers to access programming.’ Vien states there will be opportunities for coproductions as well as acquisitions, and although he declined to reveal budget figures, he notes that USA plans to be ‘aggressive’ in its pursuit of programming. ‘We want to do it right sooner rather than later,’ he says.

As a digital service, Vien concedes, Crime is not yet in a position to go head-to-head with Court TV in terms of resources. ‘At this stage, resource-to-resource competition with somebody who has 50 million subscribers would be financially ruinous. We’re not going to be dumb with the way we deploy our resources, but we are absolutely going to create excitement that there’s a new space out there.’

A Court TV executive says the channel welcomes the competition: ‘We have always felt the genre was robust. There’s plenty of room for both of us.’ Court TV held equity shares in that were recently sold to USA. As reported in last week’s edition of Plus, the crime and justice cablecaster has also raised its programming budget to US$140 million, an increase of $20 million from the previous two-year budget.

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