Syndication update: MGM pulls plug on court shows’ original production

“Paternity Court” is out of production, but remains on air through reruns and podcasting. (MGM)

Court genre thins out, but still viable

After being one of the most reliable genres in first-run syndication during the last decade, the courtroom show pack is thinning the herd a little bit. 

According to Broadcasting & Cable, MGM (through production company Orion, the former film studio acquired by MGM) has halted production on three court shows – Couples Court With The Cutlers, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, and Personal Injury Court, a newer strip on the air only two years. According to Wikipedia, Injury Court was canceled at the end of last season after only 120 episodes, despite a report in TVNewsCheck last year that it and the other two MGM shows were renewed

The pandemic could be partly the blame for the end of these shows, but also blame the unstable financial condition of MGM, as the studio – now run by reality TV producer Mark Burnett is now up for sale. Earlier, MGM sold two of its diginet channels to Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group – Light TV (which recently became TheGrio.TV) and This TV, a former partnership between the studio and Tribune Media and beforehand, Weigel Broadcasting. 

However, it may not be the end. All three shows’ repeats are still available to local stations and will be for the foreseeable future. Recent ratings for all three are unavailable as MGM does not subscribe to Nielsen. And the article also points out MGM plans to develop more court shows, despite the financial uncertainty.

In addition, Lake has launched a podcast series based on her show. 

Other shows have also ended production. Trifecta’s Protection Court shuttered last year but is also in repeats for the foreseeable future while Debmar-Mercury’s Caught In Providence was canceled after last season. The show is no longer airing on linear TV. 

Part of the problem is the vast majority of these shows has a station clientele consisting of lower-rated CW, My Network TV, and independent stations – and in some markets, these shows air in either late-night or early morning time slots. And when they do air in a decent time slot, viewership is often low as viewers generally don’t seek these stations during the day. Adding to this is a lack of widespread clearances, with some shows reaching a little over 70 percent of the U.S., the minimum needed to secure national barter advertising. 

But despite the shortcomings, reruns are likely to remain on stations’ schedules as replacements are far and few between with the pandemic’s after effects lasting well into 2022, putting a damper on pitches for new syndicated product. 

This comes after the biggest name in court – Judge Judy, is shifting her gavel to Amazon’s IMDB beginning this fall, leaving local stations with…you guessed it, reruns. CBS Media Ventures is currently selling those repeats in multi-year deals, though it is not known if the current Judge Judy station lineup would stay intact since CBS has not released any information on sales. 

Still, stations want to be in the court business, despite the glut of shows in recent years as it has been a doable genre since the premiere of the original People’s Court in 1981. As life gets back to normal, TV production should ramp up and so should pitches for new syndication product. In fact, Fox is already pitching an Ice-T court show with stations testing the program starting next month. And of course, there’s Allen’s five shows, all receiving multi-year deals to continue so even though several courtroom programs have called it quits, there won’t be a shortage of product. And that’s the final verdict. 

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20 thoughts on “Syndication update: MGM pulls plug on court shows’ original production

    • MGM get with it. We need our court TV shows.

    • Love paternity court and couple court with the Cutters
      Love Judge Mathis the best

      Get rid of Judge Judy

    • Please bring back paternity court, believe it or not, it does help babies, children n adults to come clear on who they really belong to and not to be so messed up in they’re heads about there pass n future lives, when they’re own parents are not sure themselves…

    • Bring back personal injury court.i was injured on the job and I can relate.

    • Please Bring back Paternity Court!
      Lauren Lake is wonderful and so Tell-it -like -it is!!
      These people NEED to hear her!! Come on!!!

    • Please bring back Paternity court with Judge Lauren Lake
      Couples Court too
      But especially Paternity court

    • Please bring back Paternity court and The Cutlets! I lobe these two shows. Take off that stupid Hot Bech and that ditzy Drew Narrymote who doesn’t even need to be on tv! The black shows have been tossed…Hummm!

    • Lauren Lakes Paternity Court Is By Far The Best And Most Needed Unscripted Court Television Show On Television.. Everything You See Is As It Develops In Court.. The Litigants Are Not Actors..!! They Ate real people searching for answers most people take for granted.. Every Man Woman And Child Deserves To Know The Truth About Who There Biological Father And Family Truly Are.. The Tears Are Real The Emotions Are Raw And The Results Are The End All Truth.. This Show Has Helped Nearly 1000 Families Get The Truth.. #AllRise

    • I love watching Paternity Court and Couples Court. I also loved Divorce Court with Judge Lynn Toler. I stopped watching the show when Judge Toler left. I do not care for the new Judge.

      As for Dancing with the Stars, I despise Tyra Banks. She is terrible. Her timing is off and her outfits are for a circus! Guady, tacky and outrageous. The show should be about the dancers and not her. The show was not broken and didn’t need to be fixed! Tom Bergeron was perfect and needs to be brought back. I will no longer watch as long as Banks is on the show. Most of my friends feel the same.

    • I am glad these shows were not renewed. I am sick of TV Judges who aren’t real judges. Lauren Lake and the Cutlers are fake judges. All they did was hold tests hostage for 1/2 hour and ask stupid questions. Lauren Lake is abusive and a first class fake witch complete with her fake Wilma Flintstone necklaces. She is going to be another fake TV Judge taking the place of another judge on a different show. The cutlers may become spokepersons for weighwatchers, who cares.

    • please bring back all the court shows not only its good for people to watch it also help communities bring them back i had a fit one day spectrum didn’t show any of the shows on my RDC TV.We made lots of calls.people still 👀 watching the shows bring them back . Please.

    • My name is Adrian Harvey couples Court, paternity Court, divorce court and personal injury Court are the best and most welcome and watched Court’s on TV because they help a lot of get through their relationships and problems with and from families I love watching all of them

    • Wow why would you cancel the couplers. Covid??? More people watched these shows because they was home. And paternity court and just read judge Mathis. Hmm all four judges are black??? And the shows are good. This is just wrong guess we can just watch reruns. How fun

    • I hate that they cancelled these two shows..I wish the public had a say in what is watched…Two quality court shows that were informative and helpful to audiences. .please reconsider, powers that be…

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