Upfront Central

Turner: Beefing Up Content Collection

TBS, TNT will be streamed live via new apps 5/20/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

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STRATEGY: Turner Broadcasting continued to show media buyers it is pumping money into original content to offer cable networks TNT and TBS as an ever-stronger alternative to broadcast networks.


Turner Broadcasting's entertainment networks
showed advertisers and media buyers a broad array of new dramas, comedies and
reality shows at last week's upfront presentation, getting closer to its goal
of offering original fare year-round.

The presentation was headlined by Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve
Koonin, who admitted to having pulling some stunts at past upfronts, even
confessing that "in a last-ditch effort to make you, our advertising partners,
pony up more money, it was me who pulled the plug on the power" at Turner's 2011 upfront. That year, Koonin stepped into
the breach, keeping buyers from walking out until the presentation could
continue. "I thought getting you to sing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' with me
would be a bonding moment," he said.

This year's stunt involved Koonin going off stage and being replaced by doubles
who turned cartwheels, juggled while riding a unicycle and break danced.

But Koonin was not being overly theatrical when he claimed that these days,
basic cable "has become an oxymoron. There's nothing basic about it," adding
that cable is as good as broadcast. Turner, a leader in the push to put
original shows on cable, is looking toward the next horizon of becoming "a
multiscreen video company who serves multiple audiences," Koonin added.

Part of that transformation involved the announcement that Turner this summer
will offer live streams of TBS and TNT through the networks' websites and via a
pair of new apps. Turner has streaming agreements covering subscribers of
Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon. "Tablets
and smartphones become television sets, bringing new opportunities for us and
for advertisers," Koonin said.

Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner
Classic Movies, introduced clips from a number of new shows, barely mentioning
the long list of high-rated series on TNT. New TNT dramas include King &
Maxwell
, Cold Justice, Lost Angels and The Last Ship.
New TBS comedies include Who Gets the Last Laugh?; Deon Cole's Black
Box
; Deal With It; Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host; Ground
Floor
and The CeeLo Life (working title). And Conan O'Brien
introduced Pete Holmes, whose show is scheduled to join TBS' late-night lineup
in November.

Wright also talked about projects in development with Steven Spielberg, Steve
Carell, Diablo Cody, Denis Leary, Sylvester Stallone, Dick Wolf, Nicholas
Sparks, Marcia Clark, Dee Johnson, Walt Becker, Jamie Foxx and James Duff. "Great
stories are the centerpiece of our business," he said. "Great stories come from
great writers."

Turner also told advertisers it has new ways to turn viewers into customers,
using technologies and big data to more precisely target audiences. And Frank
Sgrizzi, executive VP of Turner Entertainment ad sales, said Turner's Fan Up
initiative's "early results were pretty incredible in the [Time Warner] Media
Lab."

"I stand here as part of the new Turner," added closer Donna Speciale,
president of Turner Entertainment & Animation ad sales. "We're researching
the behavior of the consumer, and we're always listening to you."

E-mail comments to jlafayette@nbmedia.com
and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette

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