Beginning September 14, Warner Bros. is launching Crime Watch Daily as an early fringe strip intended for news lead-ins. Announced in January, the series cleared Tribune-owned stations in 29 markets. In Chicago, Crime Watch Daily is airing at 3 p.m. over WGN-TV with a repeat airing twelve hours later. In both cases, it’ll serve as news lead-ins. And it makes sense given crime is a staple of local news.
It is one of three new syndicated strips premiering on September 14 – the others are The Fab Life from Disney-ABC Television Distribution, which airs at 1 p.m. on WLS-TV, and NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk reality TV video-clip show, which airs at 5 and 5:30 p.m. over WPWR-TV.
Crime Watch Daily focuses on the crimes making headlines of the day, and also focus on missing persons cases, scams, unsolved murders, viral videos, and such with tips on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Crime Watch also plans on using local stations to contribute to stories, somewhat similar to what syndicated shows PM Magazine and Evening Magazine did back in the day.
The correspondents are Matt Doran, an award-winning reporter from Australia; America’s Most Wanted veteran Michelle Sigona; former WABC-AM personality and best selling author Jason Mattera; and former WJBK/Detroit reporter Andrea Isom, who recently stopped by WGN’s morning newscast to talk about the show.
A website is already up at crimewatchdaily.com, and on the front page as of Tuesday night, is the murder of a law enforcement officer in north suburban Fox Lake, which is 50 miles northwest of Chicago, with a link to the story from WGN’s website. Crime Watch Daily’s social media accounts are also up and running.
Scheduled for the premiere is a hidden-camera investigation into Uber (the wannabe taxi company) and its practices.
No doubt this is a huge gamble for both Warner and Tribune on this project. The last attempt at a syndicated crime strip in September 1989 with the premiere of Orion Television’s Crimewatch Tonight. Targeted for prime access and late-night slots, the show hosted by former CBS newsman Ike Pappas never gained traction with viewers and vanished within two months. The show’s content had the unfortunate distinction of falling into agencies’ “do not buy” lists, which made it hard to attract national advertising – a common theme for reality, magazine, and issue-oriented talk shows (Geraldo, Morton Downey Jr., etc.) at the time.
Despite the often-hory content, advertising issues are not expected to come into play for Crime Watch Daily as sponsors have softened their stance over controversial programming over the years. For example, despite racially-charged comments made by contestants in 2013’s edition of CBS’ Big Brother, no advertiser defections or boycotts were reported despite widespread outrage.
Crime Watch Daily’s slogan is “We Are Watching”. But will viewers be watching? We’ll soon find out.