Kevin Fallon of the Daily Beats examines America’s mania for true crime TV shows. Since launching in 2008, Investigation Discovery has monopolized the market on the true crime genre, becoming one of the most popular channels on cable TV. HBO scored with The Jinx, and Netflix’s Making a Murderer was huge. But no other channel has made it its 24/7 mission to devote its entire lineup to crime and justice. With shows like Fear Thy Neighbor, Murder Chose Me, and The Killer Beside Me, the network is tapping into some morbid fascination in viewers—and not necessarily the viewers you might think. Over the last several years, Investigation Discovery has consistently been the most-watched cable network among women aged 25 to 54, topping Lifetime, the Hallmark Channel, and HGTV.
With cable viewership declining, ID is the only cable network launched in the last 10 years to rank in the top 20 in year-end ratings. Last year it climbed to 12th place. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lady Gaga, Serena Williams and Nicki Minaj are fans. It is also the network with the longest length of viewer tune-in, meaning that people watch this stuff all day long without changing the channel. And with the network producing upwards of 650 hours of true-crime content each year, it’s a reliable destination. As the network becomes more popular, it’s starting to attract top talent in the documentary and journalism spheres.