|Launched||July 1, 1991 (as Court TV)
January 1, 2008 (as truTV)
|Owned by||Turner Broadcasting System
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
(HD feed downgraded to letterboxed 480i for SDTVs)
|Slogan||Way More Fun|
|Formerly called||Court TV (1991–2007)|
|Dish Network||242 (SD)|
|DirecTV (U.S.)||246 (HD/SD)
|Verizon FiOS||183 (HD)
|AT&T U-verse||164 (East,SD)
The network was originally founded as Court TV, a network that focused on crime-themed programs, such as documentary series, legal dramas, and coverage of prominent criminal cases. With its 2008 re-launch as TruTV, the network revamped its lineup with a focus on reality shows and "caught on camera" programs, which the network marketed as "actuality" television. In October 2014, the TruTV's lineup was re-oriented with a focus on comedy-based reality programs.
As of February 2015, approximately 89.7 million American households (77% of households with television) receive truTV.
As Court TV
The Courtroom Television Network, or Court TV for short, launched on July 2, 1991, originally only available to three million subscribers. Its original anchors were Fred Graham, who was still at the network twenty years later, and Cynthia McFadden, who later joined ABC News. 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 in December 14, 1990. Liberty Media would join the venture in 1991.
The channel originally featured continuous live trial coverage, with analysis by anchors. It was led by law writer Steven Brill, who left the network in 1997. The network came into its own during the Menendez brothers first trial and later during the O.J. Simpson murder trial. In 1998, NBC sold its share of the network to Time Warner. That same year, it began running several original and acquired programs in prime time, such as Homicide: Life on the Street and Forensic Files.
In 2004, recognizing the growth of its prime-time programming, Court TV split itself into two brands. Daytime trial coverage was branded as Court TV News, while prime-time and weekend programming took on an increasingly legal reality and drama-based format under the slogan "Seriously Entertaining". 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 Broadcasting System in 1996.
Relaunch as TruTV
On January 1, 2008, Court TV was relaunched as TruTV, changing the focus of the network to feature reality-based programming. As part of the re-branding, daytime trial coverage, which previously aired from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, was cut back to 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET and branded as "In Session." From 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. ET on weekdays (which later expanded with the scaling back of the "In Session" block to two hours in 2012 and cut entirely in late 2013) and throughout the weekend, it ran original investigation-based programming and several new reality shows not related to law enforcement. The show was produced out of the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
The investigation-based programming has slowly been reduced over time, being relegated to TruTV's late night schedule and transferred to sister network HLN and broadcast syndication, with the vast majority of the Court TV archive moving to the broadcast subchannel Justice Network in January 2015. Over the years, truTV's programming has drifted with the addition of competition/game shows, sporting events, and hidden camera prank shows.
The Second Era: The New truTV
Chris Linn, president and head of programming for truTV as of 2013, announced on July 10, 2014 that truTV would be given a branding and programming makeover on October 27, 2014. New programming to be introduced includes Branson Famous (a "reality musical"), The Shake Up—now known as Barmageddon, Hack My Life, and Kart Life. Linn explains to The Hollywood Reporter about the major departure of programming by saying, "One of the biggest things that I wanted to address when I came to the channel was the derivative nature of the content. Impractical Jokers was the one outlier on the network. That was sort of the canary in the coal mine. We want to not just be in the docuseries business. Let's lead into the comedic instead of the conflict."
The network's new focus on humor, while still retaining a reality format, is to attract any "funseekers". The logo was tweaked only slightly by elevating the circle/punctuation mark and italicizing the "TV". In addition to being marketed as "The New truTV", the network rolled out a new tagline: "Way More Fun". All this is intended to shed any of the lingering severity associated with the network's previous Court TV roots. "People who are not familiar think it should be a documentary channel," says Linn, who admits that building brand awareness in those 93 million homes is a big challenge. "This is about celebrating all of the great things happening in TV right now."
In March 2015, the network lampshaded its temporary prominence during the NCAA tournament with a campaign via social media, "#HaveUFoundtrutv", which countered and commented upon users having issues locating the channel on their local lineups. Puja Vohra, TruTV's 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".
Recently, truTV has phased out "The New" from its network logo almost 8 months after rebranding.
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 telecasts.
As CourtTV, 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 reality programming consists largely of 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 appear on CNN to provide legal analysis about current crime stories and trials. In Session concluded 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 telecast of the first four rounds 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 featured games up until the Elite 8 round. In addition to games, TruTV broadcasts the postgame studio show Inside March Madness, which airs following that day's game slate. TruTV's college basketball coverage was not limited to the NCAA Tournament; the network also airs the Reese's College All-Star Game every year since 2011. TruTV currently has a show from NFL Films in development tentatively titled Semi-Pro that will focus on a group of semi-professional football players.
In March 2015, TruTV announced that it would begin to air MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout—co-produced between Turner Sports and sister network HBO, the series will feature weekly boxing events from the Top Rank promotion, and lead into major fights being televised by HBO the following night. The series premiered on May 1, 2015.
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 and mobile 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. Originally 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 officially replaced by Investigation Discovery.
The U.S. version of CourtTV had earlier been approved by the CRTC 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 hurdles preventing TruTV from re-emerging at some point in the future on Canadian service providers. Meanwhile, many of their original shows have been airing on Action and OLN.
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.
The channel was launched on April 1, 2010, in several markets in Asia including Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Singapore on StarHub TV channel 446. The channel is owned and operated by owned 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. It also has its own dedicated website for the region.
TruTV launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a free-to-air channel on August 4, 2014. It is available on SKY, Freeview, and Freesat.
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- "The Shake Up Coming to truTV". Pop Culture Madness World News.
- TruTV Looks to Complete Makeover With Tweaked Logo, Four New Series Orders - The Hollywood Reporter (Published July 10, 2014. Accessed July 26, 2014)
- truTV Continues Bold Brand Evolution with Four New Series and Refreshed Logo - TV By the Numbers (Published July 10, 2014. Accessed July 28, 2014)
- truTV Gets Way More Fun with Brand Refresh and New Shows - TV By the Numbers (Published September 23, 2014)
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- "Cablevision, Comcast, DirecTV among providers on board in advance of March Madness". Retrieved November 9, 2012.
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- "TruTV to broadcast boxing series". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
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