Sleuth To Hunt for Cable Viewers

NBC Universal Cable will sniff out crime, investigation and suspense with Sleuth, a new 24-hour cable network launching Jan. 1. After a standard-definition launch reaching 5 million digital cable customers on Time Warner Cable, the network will also offer an HD simulcast channel and a VOD channel schedule later in 2006.

Sleuth will draw upon NBC Universal’s library of movies, documentaries and TV shows for programming, including shows such as Miami Vice, The A-Team and Knight Rider and movies like Scarface and Casino on the standard-definition and high-def lineups. The on-demand channel will offer at least 20 hours of content at any time.

NBC Universal Cable has been pondering a crime network since the NBC/Universal merger, according to David Zaslav, president, NBC Universal Cable. Although crime programming has been a mainstay for NBC, mega-hit Law & Order won’t be on Sleuth for now.

“Maybe in the future,” Zaslav says. “When it’s a big and robust platform, we’ll look at doing original content. And getting shows like Law & Order is very possible.”

For now, Sleuth is focused on getting distribution and becoming known with consumers, he said.

One other executive who isn’t so sweet on Sleuth: Court TV Chairman and CEO, Henry Schleiff, who chided the network’s reliance on “NBC’s old movies and series.”

“It sounds like it is TV Land for lawyers,” Schleiff said.