Two years into a rebranding effort that moved it beyond courtroom coverage and into the reality-TV venues of bounty hunters, repo teams, oilmen and pool parties, truTV says its choice to advertise on the Super Bowl for the first time is a sign of growing vigor.
On the heels of its best ratings year ever, truTV, part of the Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System, will pitch a new behind-the-scenes show called "NFL Full Contact," using the biggest one-day advertising microphone in the world and the presence of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
At an advertised price of more than $2.5 million for an average 30-second spot, this Super Bowl appears to be the network's most expensive advertising buy to date. Is it worth it?
"This one was a bit of a no-brainer," said Marc Juris, truTV's executive vice president and general manager. "This would be a great way to reach a very engaged and interested football audience."
TruTV, known as Court TV before being reworked in 2008, is surging among its target demographics. It's tag line -- "Not reality. Actuality" -- might be a head-scratcher, but its latest results are harder to second-guess.
In 2009, the network enjoyed its most-watched prime time in its 18-year history. The audience among adults ages 18-34 grew 29 percent and rose 11 percent among adults ages 18-49.
Reality programming such as that found on truTV "might be annoying to a lot of people, but it's certainly paying a lot of bills," said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "As much as critics tend to ‘diss' reality TV, it's efficient because it doesn't cost as much to produce. Court TV has really wisely kind of identified a niche in programming, which they've been filling to great success."
TruTV's audience is younger and more male than in years past, not surprising since one of the cable network's more popular shows, "Rehab," bills itself as the "biggest pool party in the world."
The network's rebranding "is all about giving you a ringside seat to real-life experiences," Juris said. "The new brand is definitely seeing the results."
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