by pat howard

The new CourtTV…

In Cable, Law & Order, Programming on July 11, 2007 at 5:43 pm

…will be called truTV. The rebranded network, which is shifting from the courts to the streets with more reality-based programming, will launch January 1, 2008. The network will continue to carry trial coverage during the day, according to this story, before transitioning to the Star Jones talk show at 3 p.m./ET and a slate of programs targeted to “Real Engagers.”

Some questions:

  • Does this mean the Star Jones talk show won’t necessarily focus on legal topics? If so, did Star know about this when she took the deal?
  • Doesn’t this dilute the brand? While I admire the refreshing honesty at the heart of this change, if cable networks changed names every time they changed programming strategies, we’ve never know what to call anything.
  • How hard could it really have been to program legal-themed syndicated shows for the non-courtroom hours. There are a plethora of them. It seems like small claims court shows would’ve been a perfect fit for primetime; there are plenty of gone but not forgotten legal dramas from the recent past as well (Ally McBeal and The Practice come to mind). Would it have made a difference if CourtTV had scored even one of the Law & Order shows?

My impression is that these changes only serve to lessen the CourtTV brand by making the network’s name and its new programming nearly indistinguishable from a plethora of channels that already exist: National Geographic, the various Discovery Channels, and Fox Reality, to name a few.

CourtTV is the first major player to jump niches since TNN became Spike TV a few years ago, leaving behind its country roots. And sure, truTV plans to keep the courtroom coverage…for now. But it may not be long before trials disappear from the cable channel; after all, a tru [sic] Real Engager knows that the real-life drama of the courtroom is no match for a good reality show.

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