The channel first launched in 1991 as Court TV, a merger between two projects (one from Time Warner, the other from NBC; Liberty Media joined the venture around the time of launch, while NBC would leave in 1998) to create a court-oriented news channel. The channel's original focus was on live courtroom footage and news as it happened; it quickly grew to fame by showing the Menendez brothers' first trial in 1994 and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995. In 1998, it would add syndicated programming with a crime theme to prime time. In 2005 (a year before Liberty Media sold out, resulting in TimeWarner integrating the network into its' Turner Broadcasting unit), the network split its programming into two parts with courtroom coverage broadcast under the Court TV News branding during the daytime on weekdays, while other programming used the Seriously Entertaining tagline.
On January 1, 2008, the network was re-branded as truTV, and shifted its focus away from crime-related programming to "caught on camera" type shows. The networks' new slogan became "Not reality, Actuality" to maintain its position that their programming was less scripted than even most reality shows. With the re-brand, daytime trial coverage was re-branded In Session and cut down to six hours a day on weekdays. Courtroom coverage would be fully eliminated from the channel in September 2013. A couple of years earlier, the network also began carrying coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (as CBS, TBS and TNT were at their limits when it came to coverage, and putting coverage on CNN or Cartoon Network would cause rage). As a result, it's become a Running Gag that people have to find the channel during March Madness when they otherwise wouldn't watch it. There have even been rumors that Turner was looking to turn truTV into an all-sports channel, even attempting a play at the rights to the National Hockey League to no avail.note
In 2015, with the success of Impractical Jokers and The Carbonaro Effect overshadowing the rest of the network's programming, truTV would change focus and shift to non-scripted and improvisational comedies, along with a limited amount of scripted programming. They would even acknowledge the aforementioned Running Gag relating to March Madness coverage as part of a Self-Deprecating advertisement campaign, poking fun at the network while bringing awareness to its coverage.
Coming back full circle, the Court TV name and program archive were purchased from Turner by Katz Broadcasting, an operator of several digicast networks, and used to relaunch that channel in May 2019 as a digital broadcast subnetwork.
Original shows that air or have aired on the network include:
- Adam Ruins Everything (2015-2019)
- At Home With Amy Sedaris (2017-2020)
- Billy on the Street (2015-2017)
- The Carbonaro Effect (2014-2020)
- The Chris Gethard Show (2017-2018)
- Hardcore Pawn (2009-2015)
- Impractical Jokers (2011-present)
- Operation Repo (2008-2014)
- Tacoma FD (2019-2021, 2023)
- World's Dumbest... (2008-2014)
One-off specials and documentaries:
- The Problem with Apu (2017)