Pickups by Hearst, Tribune, Media General, Gray and Univision in addition to Tegna mean the true crime diginet is now available 24 of the top 30 markets.
The multicast network known as the Justice Network is now reaching 66 million U.S. TV households boosted by a lineup of 65 affiliates — the result of a slew of affiliate deals reached in the last few months, the network announced today.
Justice Network, which launched in January 2015, airs a lineup of true crime shows (the majority of which are off-cable) plus two originals — Killing Spree and Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer.
Launched primarily on Tegna stations 19 months ago, Justice this year has added stations owned by groups including Hearst, Tribune, Media General, Gray and Univision, the company says.
The network now boasts coverage in 24 of the top 30 markets — about 57% of U.S. TV households — including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington and others. Notably missing from the list, however: New York (DMA 1) and Chicago (DMA 3).
“We are pleased to partner with more than half a dozen of the industry’s most respected broadcasters as we continue to strategically grow Justice Network’s footprint,” says Barry Wallach, head of distribution for the Justice diginet.
In an interview, Wallach explained to TVNewsCheck that Justice weighs its potential affiliations carefully. Since its programming lineup is made up primarily of “real-life” programming, he says Justice seeks affiliations with stations and station groups that have a strong commitment to local news and community involvement in their markets.
“Some diginets have just been grabbing any land they can get,” Wallach said. “We’re really looking for the right partners, the right kinds of stations that are committed to their community and news,” he says.
“We think that part of the reason for [Justice’s growth] is because we have the right kinds of stations that have this community bent,” Wallach said, “because you’re not just on some random station somewhere, where you don’t make that same connection with the viewer.…
“If we wanted to be, our progress would be at 70% or 75% [of U.S. TV households] by now making deals left and right. We’ve been much more selective [than some of the other diginet companies],” he said.
He said the goals for Justice are in line with the goals of other diginets — adding affiliates, growing audiences, acquiring content and maintaining and increasing advertising revenue. Where the latter is concerned, advertising on Justice is still mainly made up of direct response commercials. The good news, though, is that rates for such advertising “continue to climb,” Wallach says.
Also in the works for Justice: Buying more shows and developing more originals, Wallach says.