New York-based cablecaster Court TV is altering its primetime factual slate this fall as part of a rebranding strategy, to include less crime-and-punishment-themed docs. Viewer research indicates audiences are most interested in law breakers’ and law enforcers’ tricks of the trade, says COO Art Bell. One example of a new show in the lineup is Master Minds, which explores the strategies and techniques of real life imposters and con men, as opposed to detailing how they were caught.
Court TV is also floating non-crime investigative programs; for instance, Extreme Evidence will show how forensic specialists determine the causes of mechanical mishaps, such as train derailments and airliner accidents. And, the channel is experimenting with alternative programming. Fake Out and Impossible Heists are two new reality programs. The former sees contestants trying to out-bluff an ex-FBI host and the latter pits teams of participants against one another in a bid to complete a true crime-based caper.
Bell contends the change away from hard-core crime docs to softer-edged programming doesn’t amount to a revamp. ‘This is evolving Court TV’s programming rather than changing it,’ he says.
Michael Hoff, president of Everton, U.S.-based Michael Hoff Productions, the prodco behind such Court TV hits as I, Detective, says, ‘The [television] universe has become defined. The number of viewers isn’t increasing.’ This, he explains, is why the cablecaster is experimenting – to draw new viewers with programming styles that have proven successful elsewhere.