TruTV Seeks to Break its Copy Cat Image

With the approach of Upfronts—the television industry’s term for the annual negotiations with advertising agencies for next year’s TV season—TruTV seeks to change its image in the hopes of attracting more advertisers.  The network’s current programming has very few, if any, shows based in original content.  Their biggest hits—Hardcore Pawn, Container Wars, Storage Hunters and Swamp Hunters—all have plots that mirror original hits from other channels.  As a result, Chris Linn—president and Head of Programming for the Turner Broadcasting owned cable channel—says it is time for a change.  An article was recently completed by Advertising Age to detail the intended amendments to programming and marketing for the network.

Since TruTV survived the transition from Court TV in 2008, their programming has been stuck in a stagnant state.  Not only is there a limited amount of original programming, Linn says their shows all even look, sound and feel similar to one another.  Linn isn’t alone is this observation; consumers have noticed too.  Prime-time ratings for the network are down over thirty one percent for the season and it averages a meager six hundred eight four thousand total viewers.

The most popular show on the network—and one of the few that is original in content—is Impractical Jokers, a comedy that averages a little over two million viewers.  Based on this information, Linn has made the choice that the focus of the network should be geared towards comedy.  Therefore, they have introduced three comedies that will debut in their new line up.  The Carbonaro Effect will feature comedic magician Michael Carbonaro as he performs various tricks on clueless people and captures it on camera.  The show is slated to begin in May.  Friends of the People will be a scripted sketch comedy series and Motor City Masters will be a comical competition series; no further details on these series have been provided at this time.

Linn is aware that comedy is a slippery slope.  As such, he declared that TruTV wishes to appeal to “fun seekers,” but perhaps not the audience that is drawn to the acquired taste of networks such as Comedy Central.  They look to create comedy that can appeal to everyone in the hopes of pulling in a variety of advertisers in the process.