A legal agreement between CBS and A&E has helped make “Cold Case” one of the highest-rated rookie series of the 2003-04 broadcast season and given veteran series “Cold Case Files” a Nielsen boost.
The lawyers got involved last spring when CBS, Warner Bros. TV and Jerry Bruckheimer Prods. were putting together the pilot of a series about a female homicide detective in Philadelphia who is assigned old unsolved crimes– i.e., “cold cases.”
All agreed that “Cold Case” would be the perfect title for the series. But A&E, which had launched “Cold Case Files” in 1998 as a documentary series examining “the most fascinating unsolved crimes on the books, and the detectives who solve them,” said “not so fast” to CBS.
“Files,” produced and hosted by A&E’s 20-year veteran Bill Kurtis(“Investigative Reports”), was successful enough to reap repeated renewals, and A&E was not about to let CBS take over two-thirds of the title without a quid pro quo.
The producers wanted the title so badly that they agreed to include a short promo after the end credits of each “Cold Case” episode pointing to “Cold Case Files” on A&E.
Those promos have given an adrenaline shot to “Cold Case Files,” which run four times a week on A&E, Tuesday at 9 and 10 p.m. and Thursday at 8 and 9 p.m. Season to date (Sept. 3-March 4), “Files” is up by 17% in the adults 18-34 demo that A&E targets. For February alone, the household number for “Files” has shot up 76%.
“Cold Case” is not performing shabbily for CBS either. The show’s 9.2 household rating season to date makes it the fourth highest-rated rookie series on broadcast TV and 18th highest overall.