|Launched||July 1, 1991|
|Owned by||WarnerMedia Entertainment|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
|Slogan||Funny because it's tru|
|Broadcast area||United States|
|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, United States|
|Formerly called||Court TV (1991–2007)|
|Available on all U.S. cable systems||Channel slots may vary on each provider|
|PlayStation Vue||Internet Protocol television|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
The channel was originally launched in 1991 as Court TV, a network that focused on crime-themed programs such as true crime documentary series, legal dramas, and coverage of prominent criminal cases. With its relaunch as TruTV in 2008, the channel revamped its lineup with a focus on reality docusoaps and "caught on camera" programs, which the network marketed as "actuality" television. In October 2014, TruTV pivoted its format to focus more on comedy-based reality series.
As of January 2016, TruTV is available to approximately 91 million households (78.1%) in the United States.
The Courtroom Television Network, or Court TV for short, was launched on July 1, 1991 at 6:00 am Eastern Time, and was available to three million subscribers. Its original anchors were Vinnie Politan, Fred Graham, Cynthia McFadden, and Terry Moran. The network was born out of two competing projects to launch cable channels with live courtroom proceedings, the American Trial Network from Time Warner and American Lawyer Media, and In Court from Cablevision and NBC. Both projects were present at the National Cable Television Association in June 1990. Rather than trying to establish two competing networks, the projects were combined on December 14, 1990. Liberty Media would join the venture in 1991.
The channel originally consisted of live courtroom trials that are interspersed with anchors and reporters. It was led by law writer Steven Brill, who later left the network in 1997. The network came into its own during the Menendez brothers' first trial in 1994, and the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995. In 1998, NBC sold its share of the network to Time Warner. That same year, Court TV began running several original and acquired programs in prime time, such as Homicide: Life on the Street, Cops, and Forensic Files.
Recognizing the growth of its primetime programming, Court TV announced in 2005 that it would split its programming into two brands. Daytime trial coverage was branded as Court TV News, while other dayparts were promoted under the slogan "Seriously Entertaining"; this programming would feature new reality television series focusing on crime-oriented topics. In January 2006, the network launched a male-targeted programming block known as "RED" (an abbreviation of "Real. Exciting. Dramatic.").
Time Warner bought full control of Court TV in 2006 and began running it as part of the company's Turner Broadcasting System division. The buyout of Court TV marked Time Warner's first television network acquisition, rather than a sale, since the acquisition of Turner in 1996.
On July 11, 2007, Time Warner announced that Court TV would be relaunched as truTV on January 1, 2008. The new brand was intended to accompany a larger shift towards action-oriented reality series which did not necessarily involve crime or law enforcement, such as Black Gold, Hardcore Pawn, Lizard Lick Towing, Ocean Force, and the caught-on-camera series World's Dumbest. TruTV promoted its new positioning under the slogan "Not Reality. Actuality."; network staff argued that the term "reality" had become associated with "unrealistic" programming, and that it wanted to emphasize that its new programs would feature "real" people.
As part of the re-branding as TruTV, daytime trial coverage was cut back to 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET and branded as In Session. In 2009, production of the program was shifted to the facilities of HLN in Atlanta. On March 4, 2013, In Session was cut to a two-hour, taped format. On September 30, 2013, In Session was cancelled, and replaced by a block of archived programming under the banner In Session Presents.
Reruns of Court TV series have since aired on HLN (primarily Forensic Files), and have also been syndicated to the over-the-air digital network Justice Network. With changes to HLN's programming strategy and the growing popularity of the genre, the network began to produce and premiere more original true crime programs in 2017.
In December 2018, Turner sold the rights to the Court TV brand and programming library to Scripps Media subsidiary Katz Broadcasting, with plans to re-launch it as an over-the-air digital network in May 2019.
Shift to comedy
Although noting that it had experienced "tremendous success" with individual programs, truTV's new president and head of programming Chris Linn explained that the network's overall growth as a brand had been hindered due to its lingering association with Court TV and its tone of programming, and its reliance on "conflict-reliant, heavy, dramatic and maybe overly produced" docuseries with derivative premises. In April 2014, the network announced that it would undergo a brand repositoning for the 2014-15 television season aimed towards "funseekers", with a focus on comedy-oriented docusoaps, semi-scripted series, sketch comedies and reality competitions.
Building upon the success of Impractical Jokers (which Linn compared to a "canary in the coal mine" due to its contrasting premise to other truTV programs at the time) and The Carbonaro Effect, the network greenlit a number of new series as part of the re-launch, including Barmageddon, the "reality musical" Branson Famous, Fake Off, Hack My Life, and Kart Life. As part of the re-launch, a new branding campaign ("Way More Fun") and refreshed logo (temporarily branding the network as The New truTV) were introduced on-air on October 27, 2014; the branding is meant to portray the network in a lighter manner.
Since the repositioning, TruTV has also parodied its temporary prominence during the NCAA tournament with various advertising campaigns, seeking to promote the channel and its programming to the expanded audience. A common theme of these campaigns, which have included the 2015 social media campaign "#HaveUFoundtrutv", and a "truTV Awareness Month" campaign in 2018, involve commenting upon viewers who were unaware of the channel, or are trying to locate it on their local lineups. Of the former, Puja Vohra, Senior vice president of marketing and digital, explained that the campaign was intended to portray the network's brand as being "fun" and "self-aware".
In December 2016, truTV unveiled a new marketing campaign and slogan, "Funny Because It's tru". The campaign reinforced the network's focus on comedy by parodying the "cliches" of network television promos. The network currently competes with Viacom-owned Comedy Central.
On March 4, 2019, AT&T announced a major reorganization of its broadcasting assets to effectively dissolve Turner Broadcasting. Its assets were dispersed across multiple units of WarnerMedia with TruTV along with TBS, TNT and HBO moving to newly formed WarnerMedia Entertainment.
The 1080i high definition simulcast feed of TruTV is available on all major cable and satellite providers. In March 2011, the channel saw carriage of its HD feed increase, due to its coverage of the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament (and subsequent tournaments), which was its first ever live sports telecast.
As Court TV, the channel's programming traditionally consisted of reality legal programming and legal dramas, such as legal-based news shows, legal-based talk shows, live homicide trial coverage, court shows, police force shows, and other criminal justice programming. TruTV's original emphasis led to programming consisting largely of reality-centered shows produced specifically for the channel including Lizard Lick Towing, TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest..., Full Throttle Saloon, Southern Fried Stings, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, Impractical Jokers, Storage Hunters, Most Shocking and its spin-offs Top 20 Countdown: Most Shocking and Most Daring, Upload with Shaquille O'Neal, and Hardcore Pawn.
The channel also carried a week-daily news block, In Session (the successor to Court TV News), which provided live coverage of trials, legal news and details of highly publicized crimes Monday through Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. ET (except during national holidays, with reruns of the channel's reality programming airing in place of the block on such days). Its coverage included analysis from anchors and guests to help viewers understand legal proceedings. In Session also ran a blog, Sidebar, where the In Session team posted updated legal news and analysis. In Session moved to a new studio in Atlanta at the CNN Center on November 16, 2009. Production of the block was eventually taken over by TruTV's sister network, HLN. In Session anchors also appeared on CNN to provide legal analysis about current crime stories and trials. In Session ended its run on September 26, 2013.
On February 8, 2010, TruTV premiered NFL Full Contact, a show that gave a behind-the-scenes look at the television production for major football events such as the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, the Pro Bowl, and the season opener; the show was not renewed for a second season.
On March 15, 2011, TruTV began airing live sports programming for the first time with its telecasts of the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The agreement is part of a contract between Turner Sports and CBS Sports resulting in shared coverage of the NCAA Tournament through 2024. TruTV features games up until the Elite 8 round, and is the exclusive broadcaster of the tournament's recently-introduced "First Four" round. In addition to games, TruTV broadcasts the postgame studio show Inside March Madness, which airs following that day's game slate. Until its discontinuation, TruTV also aired the pre-season Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. In May 2016, TruTV broadcast the opening rounds of the inaugural NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship; Turner would also televise the event in 2017.
In May 2015, the channel began to air a series of HBO-produced Top Rank boxing telecasts under the banner MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout, serving as lead-ins for fights airing on HBO the next day.
In 2001 Court TV purchased The Smoking Gun, a website that focuses on legal items such as mug shots and other public documents pertaining to famous individuals and cases. The site remained a property of the company through the rebranding to TruTV, but was sold back to its founder in 2014.
Court TV purchased the website Crime Library, which provided detailed information about infamous crimes and how they were solved, in 2001. The website remained an actively updated Court TV/TruTV property until 2014, and was taken offline in 2015.
Online coverage of current trials (including In Session) is now hosted at sister website CNN.com's "Crime" section. TruTV also maintains truTV video, a streaming video player, where users can watch clips of user-submitted home videos and excerpts from TruTV programs. The network is also part of Turner's TV Everywhere initiative, with the "Watch truTV" website, mobile, and Amazon Fire TV/Apple TV/Roku apps with East and West feeds of the channel available to pay-TV subscribers using their provider sign-in credentials, if available.
On February 3, 2003, Court TV Plus debuted on Sirius Satellite Radio, featuring audio from Court TV programs. Launched on Channel 134, it was moved in September 2005 and aired on Channel 110 until the channel ceased operations on January 1, 2008.
Court TV Canada, a Canadian version of the channel under its previous format, owned by CHUM Limited (and later acquired by CTVglobemedia which then sold its assets to Bell Canada under the Bell Media subsidiary), launched on September 7, 2001. Unlike its U.S. counterpart, it did not re-brand under the TruTV name and continued to operate as Court TV until August 30, 2010, when, as part of a wider licensing agreement with Discovery Communications and CTV, Court TV was replaced by Investigation Discovery.
The U.S. version of Court TV had earlier been approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as an eligible foreign channel in 1997, and indeed, had been carried by several Canadian service providers prior to the launch of the domestic service. However, Court TV/TruTV was never withdrawn as an eligible foreign service for carriage on cable and satellite, meaning that, particularly with the end of the licensing agreement with CTV, there are few theoretical hurdles preventing TruTV from re-emerging at some point in the future on Canadian service providers, but rights to its original programs (now mostly comedic in scope) have been dispersed across other Canadian cable channels (particularly CMT and Action, both owned by Corus Entertainment). On April 1, 2019, Action was converted to a new full-time Adult Swim network, and it did not retain truTV content.
The channel was launched on April 1, 2009, in Latin America replacing Retro, also owned by Turner Broadcasting System. The announcement was made on March 25, 2009, by Turner Broadcasting System Latin America. The channel has the same programming, idents, and bumpers from the U.S. version.
UK and Ireland
In May 2014, Turner Broadcasting System announced that they would launch a separate UK version of the U.S. channel. On February 16, 2017, Sony Pictures Television acquired the channel from Turner. On February 12, 2019, the UK channel was renamed True Crime.
The channel was launched on April 1, 2010, in several markets in Asia including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. The channel is owned and operated by Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific and has similar programming, idents, and bumpers to the U.S. version, but many are also created by the Turner regional office in Hong Kong.
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