truTV (formerly Court TV) is an American cable and satellite television channel owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner. The network was originally launched in 1991 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 relaunch as truTV in 2008, 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, TruTV's lineup was reoriented with a focus on comedy programming and comedy-based reality series.
As of February 2015, approximately 89.7 million US households (77% of households with television) receive truTV.
As Court TV
The Courtroom Television Network, or Court TV for short, was launched on July 2, 1991, and was 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 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 July 11, 2007, it was announced that Court TV would be relaunched as TruTV on January 1, 2008. The new brand was intended to accompany a larger shift in the network's primetime lineup towards action-oriented reality programming that do 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. The network promoted these series under the slogan "Not Reality. Actuality."; TruTV staff argued that the term "reality" had become associated with unrealistic programming, and that it wanted to emphasize that its new series would feature "real" people.
As part of the re-branding, 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.
2014–present: 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, TruTV 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.
In March 2015, the network parodied its temporary prominence during the NCAA tournament with a campaign via social media, "#HaveUFoundtrutv", which countered and commented upon viewers trying to locate 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".
In December 2016, TruTV unveiled a new marketing campaign and slogan, "Funny Because It's Tru". The campaign reinforces the network's focus on comedy by showcasing its stars in advertising that parodies "the cliches of network television promos".
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 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 appeared 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. 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 Sports also holds multi-year rights to this event.
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. 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 CourtTV 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 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.
- Main article: truTV (Latin America)
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
- Main article: truTV (UK and Ireland)
In May 2014, Turner Broadcasting System announced that they would launch a separate UK version of the US channel. On 16 February 2017, Sony Pictures Television acquired the channel from Turner.
- Main article: truTV (Asia)
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 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.