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Court and Conflict Shows Get New Life on TV and Streaming

Judge Judy

Judge Judy

Judge Judy is wrapping up, while first-run production on Maury will end after its current season. With two staples of the daytime lineup shuttering, are courtroom shows and conflict-based talk shows on their way out? Broadcasting + Cable investigated how these two genres are finding new opportunities for success.

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Court shows can have a long shelf life. Stephen Brown, executive VP, programming and development at Fox Television Stations, said:

Talk shows are ephemeral because they are day-and-date, and entertainment magazines have no life beyond several days. Producing [court and conflict] is good business because it’s inexpensive to produce and it gives you a great library that has a long tail. Court is really a good business for us, and I think we should do more.

Brown added:

Court allows for big characters. Guests can come in and be a little wackadoodle and [audiences are] delighted by it. Court allows for a very black and white world, there’s really no nuance. There’s a hero and there’s a victim or a villain. That’s why we love these judges who come in and adjudicate these cases. You are watching these people get their comeuppance. It’s a moral story that we get to see play out every day.

Fox is debuting The Mediator with Ice-T next month. Divorce Court's library has been licensed to multiple streaming services, including Disney+ and Peacock. 

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, meanwhile, has five court shows! Allen dished:

Having five court shows makes us the largest producer and distributor of court shows domestically. The reason we believe so much in this genre is that this is a huge ad category. Law-related services account for 15% of all local ad sales. The legal ad category is $650 million annually, so [this genre] has staying power. It’s also excellent counter-programming, low-risk for stations, and it continues to be the perfect transitional program into and out of all programs and very easy to cross-promote.

Conflict-based shows remain a fertile genre. Fans will be able to stream Maury, Jerry Springer, and Steve Wilkos on Nosey. NBC is working on a Maury spinoff, headlined by a guest host, for fall 2022, according to Tracie Wilson, executive VP, NBCUniversal Syndication Studios.

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