“Bigger, bolder, broader” is the watch cry as truTV adds several new original series to its production and development slate. The network is placing a strong emphasis on comedic and action-packed “actuality” programming designed to appeal to its young adult and young male audience. Projects in the works include a unique new game show set on an airplane, which is being developed by Howie Mandel and his production company, Alevy Productions. truTV has also ordered a pilot starring Shaquille O’Neal and developed by Fishbowl Worldwide Media, with America’s Funniest Home Videos creator/executive producer Vin Di Bona and Tosh.0 co-creator Mike Gibbons among the executive producers.
“truTV has firmly established itself as a leader in TV’s fastest-growing genre, delivering on the promise of outrageous, fun television with truTV’s unique spin,” said Marc Juris, executive vice president and chief operating officer of truTV. “We’re also programming with an eye towards creating content that works across multiple screens and establishing ourselves as a truly multi-platform brand.”
Since its re-brand in 2008, truTV has been on a tear when it comes to ratings growth and competitive position. After scoring its best year ever with key demos in 2011, truTV just charted its best quarter ever in Q1 2012. truTV has also planted itself among basic cable’s Top 10 networks with men 18-49. And with a median age of 41, truTV has the youngest primetime audience of such direct non-fiction competitors as Discovery, History and A&E.
truTV’s dedication to actuality programming has paid off with shows that deliver ratings success every night of the week. Six of truTV’s primetime series rank in the top 10 for their time period with key adult and male demos. In addition, nine truTV series average more than 1 million viewers, while several truTV shows – including Hardcore Pawn, Lizard Lick Towing and Impractical Jokers – ranked among basic cable’s Top 50 unscripted series for the first quarter.
For this year’s Upfront, rather than putting on a single large presentation, truTV hit the road to conduct in-person meetings with small groups of key clients. “Given the rapidly changing media environment, we decided the big budget upfront presentation does not provide the opportunity to sit down and develop unique solutions for our clients,” Juris said. “This year we don’t want to pitch. We want to partner.”
“truTV has experienced record-breaking growth and a desirable young adult audience, catching the eye of over 30 new advertisers this year,” said Joe Hogan, executive vice president, Young Adults Ad Sales, Turner Broadcasting. “We have enjoyed sharing this success story with clients the last several weeks, and look forward to attracting more marketers to the network this Upfront through customized multi-screen opportunities.”
Looking ahead, truTV is working in the development arena to craft additional on-target series for the network’s audience. truTV is specifically focusing on the comedic reality genre, with an eye toward shows that tap into the network’s recent success with the acquired hit Wipeout.
Here’s a rundown of what truTV has coming down the pike:
New Series Killer Karaoke – New series premiering later this year Unlike anything else on TV, popular comedian and Jackass star Steve-O hosts this outrageous singing contest that challenges contestants to break out in song in the midst of extreme, hilarious and sometimes skin-crawling physical challenges. The hits just keep on coming as contestants try to carry a tune under fire. Killer Karaoke comes to truTV from Zodiak USA, producer of the network’s popular Hardcore Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing.
Guinness World Records Gone Wild – New series premiering later this year A new series that challenges everyday people to push themselves to do astonishing things for their place in history. Among the records the show will set out to break are the most panes of glass run through in one minute, fastest time to jump over three oncoming cars and the highest dive into 12 inches of water. Guinness World Records Gone Wild is produced for truTV by High Noon Entertainment (Cake Boss, Tough Love).
Container Wars – Cast-contingent series This auction show is unlike any other auction show on television, because this one takes place in a commercial shipping port. The cast will compete against each other to buy the contents of huge shipping containers that have come from all around the world. They have no idea what’s inside the containers until the doors are opened. They then have only have a few minutes to assess what’s visible and decide whether to bid. The winner of each container then checks the contents in greater detail and decides on the amount of profit or loss they are likely to make. Container Wars comes to truTV from T Group Productions.
Hardcore Pawn: Fort Bragg – New series premiering in July Guns Plus is a truly unique pawn store that is a favorite of the thousands of soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, as well as their proud families, friends and supporters. Located next to the legendary military base, Guns Plus is staffed by military veterans, including ex-Marines and Special Ops soldiers, who have an amazing first-hand knowledge of the rare and collectible weapons that come through their doors on a daily basis. For this series, viewers will be taken behind the scenes for very different look at the pawn business, focusing almost entirely on weapons and military equipment. Hardcore Pawn: Fort Bragg comes to truTV from Zodiak USA, producer of the network’s popular Hardcore Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing.
Development Upload with Shaquille O’Neal (working title) truTV has ordered a pilot of this new series from the producers of Tosh.0 and America’s Funniest Home Videos. Basketball superstar and TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal and friends will round up the week’s online video clips, as well as create their own viral videos and comment on and parody current pop culture stories. This pilot comes to truTV from Fishbowl Worldwide Media founded by entertainment industry veterans Vin Di Bona and Bruce Gersh, with the creative team led by Susan Levison. Di Bona, Gersh, Levison and Beth Greenwald serve as executive producers, along with Tosh.0’s Mike Gibbons.
Jeff & Curtis Lose Weight (working title) This new series takes the weight-loss concept and puts a truTV unique spin on it. Comedy duo Jeff Sloniker and Curtis Rainsberry are struggling to maintain their diets and workout regime as they battle the bulge…and each other. Guided by their trainer, they will try extreme diets, attend absurd exercise classes and generally humiliate themselves physically in public for the sake of losing a pound or two. At the end of each episode, the guys will weigh in, and the loser will have to perform a humiliating task drawn from the “Bowl of Pain.” Jeff & Curtis Lose Weight is being developed for truTV by Rive Gauche Television. Turbulence (working title) truTV takes off for one truly outrageous game show in the sky. As contestants fly from one location to another, they must answer questions. Every correct answer banks money for a big weekend blowout in Las Vegas. And every wrong answer makes the flight a little bit bumpier. Turbulence comes to truTV from Howie Mandel’s Alevy Productions. Mandel says, “I couldn’t be more excited to be working with truTV on a project that I am really passionate about.”
Returning Series World’s Dumbest… – Season 14 begins Thursday, June 7, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) Operation Repo – Season 10 begins Wednesday, June 6, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) Lizard Lick Towing – Season 2 returns Monday, June 11, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) Storage Hunters – Season 2 premieres Tuesday, June 12, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) Hardcore Pawn – Season 6 coming in July Vegas Strip – Season 3 coming in July.