THE MARKETING 100; STEVE BRILL;COURT TV

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Steve Brill, founder, chairman and editor in chief of cable's Court TV, pens most of his own ads.

"If I can't explain to people why they should watch my channel, then I'm either not a very good writer, or it's not a very good channel," he says.

Both are indeed good. Mr. Brill, 44, who built his electronic media empire on the foundation of well-regarded legal trade magazine American Lawyer, is being read and his channel is being watched.

Although Court TV doesn't disclose its Nielsen ratings data, it's generally known that Court TV's ratings have increased exponentially-at least eight-fold-since the O.J. Simpson trial began in February.

But Court TV isn't otherwise profiteering from the trial; its ad sales policy prohibits selling packages for specific trials. And even though CNN and E! Entertainment Television are raking in record ad sales with their courtroom coverage, Court TV's advertisers are buying run-of-network schedules that just happen to air predominantly in or around the Simpson trial.

"We can't sell a specific trial, because criminal cases are impossible to predict," explains Mr. Brill. "It's not good business long term to sell yourself based on one trial."

The approach seems to be working. While there still is debate within in the criminal justice system-particularly from the justices-about the merits of having cameras in the courtroom, consumers and advertisers seem to be responding.

A recent study showed that not only do consumers feel positively about Court TV's coverage, but they considered advertiser support of the channel a public service. Blue-chip advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Clorox and Metropolitan Life have signed long-term buys.

While he bristles at the idea that Court TV is capitalizing on the O.J. trial, Mr. Brill acknowledges he's exploiting Court TV's trial coverage to build the Court TV brand, which recently broke the 20 million household penetration mark.

"There's nothing wrong with marketing yourself, if marketing is selling people on your editorial product," says Mr. Brill.

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