Discovery’s Got Oprah, But Now TBS’ Got Conan
As the cable upfront presentations get ever more competitive by the day, Turner effectively one-upped Discovery today, April 12, announcing that Conan O’Brien is to join the TBS line-up.
His arrival in November is welcome news for the Turner folks who have been out talking up their slate to agencies ahead of their official broadcast week presentation on May 19.
Alright, so Oprah’s launching a whole cable channel with Discovery and Conan’s getting a slot at 11.00 p.m., what matters is who’s generating the most buzz around their presentation.
Some TV market ad sales executives suggest that the upfront is likely to break with the top tier cable market, before deals get written in broadcast, and if that proves true then TNT and TBS now have a much better deck of cards with which to play upfront poker.
Credit Suisse media analyst, Spencer Wang, noted that TBS’ year-on-year total day ratings are improving, down 6% in March compared to a fall of 8.7% in February. Wang suggests that the Turner cable unit will be a catalyst for positive change within Time Warner due to report first quarter earnings on Wednesday, May 5.
TBS sister service, drama channel TNT, meanwhile was up 10% in March, versus a 2% increase in February. Wang predicts that an improved ad market could lead Turner to post a 2% increase in ad sales in first quarter, versus a disappointing 4% decline in the fourth quarter 2009. Elsewhere in the Turner portfolio, Cartoon continues to struggle while Adult Swim is having a stellar season and CNN is looking to ways to rev up its advertiser appeal, despite its 33% ratings decline. Perhaps more high profile event-style programming is part of the answer. We’ll no doubt find out Tuesday, April 14. CNN/HLN is holding something of an upfront event themselves that they’re calling, “NewsMakers 2010.” Is Conan on that list?