NBC, Court compile ‘Files’-sharing plan

Legal net head sees step as 'important brand extension'

NEW YORK — NBC and Court TV have pulled a switch on the repurposing trend: The cable show “Forensic Files” will go to the broadcast network in simultaneous primetime reruns.

Usual pattern is for a cable network to buy the same-week repeat of a broadcast-TV show, such as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” from NBC to USA and “Alias” from ABC to ABC Family.

But NBC, which already has a deal to get as many as 12 of its “Dateline” segments each year from edited versions of Court TV’s taped coverage of criminal cases, has agreed to carry Court’s nightly “Forensic Files” series for four Sundays beginning Aug. 25.

NBC will schedule back-to-back half-hours of “Forensic Files” at 8 p.m. as a lead-in to two Dick Wolf-produced shows, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Crime & Punishment.”

In return, Court TV will get an undisclosed license fee from NBC, plus one 30-second spot within the NBC run for Court to promote one of its regularly scheduled shows. Value to Court TV of the four-week, eight-episode package will reach the low seven figures.

“This is a man-bites-dog story because a Court TV show is getting exposure in a prime piece of real estate on NBC,” said Henry Schleiff, chairman and CEO of Court TV. “It’s an important brand extension for us — more people watch broadcast TV on Sunday than any other night.”

Schleiff said Court TV will help to promote the NBC run by scheduling five new primetime episodes of “Forensic Files” during the week of Aug. 26, plus two fresh hourlong crime-investigation reports in “The System,” which runs at 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Produced by Paul Dowling, for Medstar, “Forensic Files” premiered on Court TV as a weekly series in fall 2000. Show now runs every night at 9 and 9:30, where it’s averaging 630,000 households, typically beating its lead-in by 50% in the ratings. Year to date, 12 of the 15 highest-rated Court TV shows are episodes of “Forensic Files.”

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