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Court Touts Viewer Engagement, Unveils Slate

Court TV says it met or exceeded 97% of the return on investment deals it inked with advertisers during last year’s upfront. That means, according to the network, it followed through nearly 100% of the time on providing viewers who were as engaged with their programming as Court promised they would be.

The network during last upfront said it was partnering with four major media-buying agencies to base upfront deals on viewer engagement rather than total viewing. By using minute-by-minute Nielsen numbers, the network was responding to advertisers’ demands for greater accountability.

Advertisers say that, in an age when the Internet provides superior ad-tracking capability, networks need to prove viewers are seeing their spots. Viewers who aren’t engaged enough with programming to stay tuned to a channel through commercial breaks might miss spots, argue the advertisers. Now, a year later, Court TV says that 97% of the brand schedules they worked out with their partners delivered.

“Court TV is leading a necessary evolution, an evolution necessary for the clients and for the buyers,” said Charlie Collier, general manager, executive VP of sales, at an upfront lunch for press today in New York, pointing to the fact that Court is one of the only networks considering using the engagement model.

Collier says the network will stick with the engagement model going forward and will make good on the 3% of deals from last year on which it underdelivered.

Elsewhere in Court TV upfront news, the network tooted the obligatory “multiple platform” horn, calling its own digital-platform plan “Seriously Everywhere.” That includes a new broadband Web site – Seriously RED – devoted to Court’s 8 p.m. prime time action block; “portable premieres,” mobile sneak peeks of shows on the linear channels; and a series of short-form documentaries being developed for online.

“The viewer/consumer has never had more choice and more choice,” said Court TV Chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff. “More choice of content and more choice of the means of distribution to access that content.”

Quoting remarks made recently by News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, Schleiff maintained that, even in a multiplatform environment, content is king. In keeping with that statement, the network has 12 returning series and a slew  in development for next year.

Upcoming programs include psychic-investigation series Haunting Evidence; ‘Til Death Do Us Part, a scripted series based on real-life cases in which one spouse murdered another; and Beach Patrol: MiamiBeach, a reality drama about the lifeguards on a Miami lifesaving team. Documentary movies include June’s Unknown White Male, about an amnesia-struck man who forgets his 37-year life, and The Man Who Would Be Polka King, about an embezzling wannabe polka superstar.

Programs in development include marital-battle series Divorce Story, female-bounty-hunter reality show Bounty Girls and psychic-forensic-investigation series Phenomena Police.