Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013
ABC: Reducing Repeats With Limited Series
CBS: Restocking the Comedy Coffers
Fox: '24' Ways to Retool With Comedy, Spectacle
NBC: Betting on Olympics, 'Voice' to Launch New Hits
The CW: Making Noise With Dramas
USA: Launching Original Half-Hour Comedies
Turner: Beefing Up Content Collection
ESPN: We Welcome the Competition
Univision: Expanding Its Hispanic Footprint
Telemundo: Batting 1,000 on Original Content
MundoFox: Bringing 'The X Factor,' 'Bridge' to Hispanic Viewers
Discovery en Espanol: Introducing a New Programming Genre, Vroom
Click here to view the fall primetime schedule grid.
Click here to view pilot clips and trailers from the networks' new shows.
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."
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Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013