Court Serves Sponsor 'Solution'


Court TV's Saturday-night lineup — about to become more thematic — will also serve as a showcase for integrated product placement.

The channel on Sept. 6 will unveil "Saturday Night Solution" — a haven for first-run and repeat episodes of such original series as Forensic Files, I Detective
and Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman, plus the new shows Face-Off
and Masterminds.

Presented from 8 to 11 p.m., the shows will be united by a common focus, from how DNA can be used as a crime-solving tool to fingerprinting. Openings, wraparounds and a pair of hosts will touch on the evening's theme, hoping to deliver a boost beyond the net's 0.8 primetime average.

The segments also will regularly refer to products or services from participating advertisers, through host references or demonstrations. More than 20 sponsors — including Pizza Hut, Sara Lee, Masterfoods, PC Wireless, Clorox, Toyota, Wyeth and the movie units of Sony and Vivendi Universal — had signed on by press time. Considering that response, Court plans on making "Solution" a Saturday fixture through the end of 2004.

"This is the next step of our evolution, our advertising sales approach and our brand," said Charlie Collier, Court's executive vice president of ad sales. "This allows us to get sponsors involved in a product showcase in-program, where the hosts work products into the content in a way that doesn't interfere with the editorial focus. The process is seamless, but not foolish."

If DNA is the theme, one or more wraparound segments would explore the technology or medicines involved with its research, leading into a look at a sponsor involved in that area. In Sony and Universal's case, the product would be new home video or DVD releases.

Each advertiser gets a pair of one-minute, hosted segments during a "Solution" block, plus a 30-second product placement adjacent to commercial breaks. The sponsors also get on-screen billboards, appearances on a new "Solution" portion of Court's Web site, and mentions during block promos.

Collier said the sales drive for "Solution" was launched during the network's upfront presentations, with pricing determined on an account-by-account basis.

Court TV's standards and practices committee will review the wraparounds for accuracy.

"This has to be good, responsible TV," Collier emphasized. "You're not doing your sponsors a service if the programming isn't good."