On the heels of its successful Live PD crime docuseries collaboration, A+E Networks is again teaming with legal TV commentator Dan Abrams to launch a new true-crime network built around live court coverage.
The Law & Crime network taps into the former Court TV programming model of featuring predominately live coverage of ongoing criminal court cases from around the country during the daytime hours, along with original analysis and talk/documentary programming in the evening, Abrams said.
‘Thirst for Real Content’
“It’s a 24/7 live trial network,” said Abrams, who worked at Court TV during the 1990s and currently serves as a legal analyst for ABC’s Good Morning America. “I see that there is a real hole in the marketplace — there’s a thirst for live content and for real content.”
The network features a team of lawyer anchors who will cover and analyze the daily court proceedings, as well as other original programming to balance out the schedule, Abrams said.
A+E Networks owns an unspecified minority interest in the network, and Abrams said the network will tap into the company’s resources to build awareness and distribution for the channel, though he would not provide specific details.
“They’ve been a great partner so far in helping with everything from distribution to possible acquisitions and growth,” he said. “That investment has allowed us to take it from proof of concept to becoming a full fledged network.”
The network is in discussions with MVPDs but has yet to reach any distribution deals.
Law & Crime is launching into a very crowded television marketplace that features a number of cable networks dedicated to the true-crime category, including Investigation Discovery and Oxygen.
Related: Oxygen to Rebrand as a True Crime Channel
Abrams said Law & Crime’s plan for live programming would separate it from other networks trying to launch and build an audience.
“I think we’ll have a lot easier time than the others because we’re the only game in town when it comes to live trials,” he said. “Every other network I’ve seen pitched is offering some version of either talking-head TV or repurposing content that’s already available elsewhere. We’re offering nine to 12 hours of live programming a day, so we’re immediately distinguished from the rest of the pack because we’ve got so much original, live programming.”
Abrams, who said he will appear on the network on occasion, said his work on A&E’s Live PDunscripted series served as a partial inspiration for Law & Crime. The series, which Abrams co-hosts each week as it follows several police departments around the country in real time as they respond to incidents, is the network’s most watched unscripted documentary series.
Related: ‘Live PD’ Draws Viewers, and Not All Watch Live
“Seeing people wanting to watch the story unfold as it does on Live PD showed me that people are interested in the programming,” he said. “What people want is more of the actual documentary-style programming, news programming, or in this case, live trial programming.”
Showing Live Court Video Now
The network also hopes to offer a streamed over-the-top version within the next month, and network officials are currently talking to various streaming platforms to gain distribution. Abrams said there are no distribution deals to announce yet. The network’s lawandcrime.com website currently offers live court video of high-profile criminal trials along with legal analysis.
“With the ability to have OTT channels, we’re seeing a lot more on-demand viewing, and that comes from an audience that’s passionate about the programming,” he said. “We expect to tap into that passion with Law & Crime.”
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.