Before helping make CBS.com a leading network Web destination, Brinley Turner got singed in the dotcom flameout.
In 1999, after getting an MBA in entertainment management at UCLA's Anderson School, Turner wanted to work in the film business and landed a job in international distribution at DreamWorks. But after finding steady side work writing business plans and funding proposals for old classmates launching Internet startups, she chucked her day job.
Riding the Internet bubble was “cool,” Turner says, until one CEO client fell out with “his rich father-in-law” and the entire deal she had been working on collapsed. “I wanted a job with a 401(k),” she says.
Turner found the stability she craved at CBS, but she didn't leave her dotcom know-how behind. Since joining the network in 2000, Turner, 33, has helped to develop its online presence. Now, as VP of CBS Digital Media Entertainment and general manager of CBS.com, she is behind the network's new, ad-supported broadband channel, Innertube.
Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media, credits Turner with keeping CBS “ahead of the curve in a highly competitive time” and praises her leadership style.
“Brinley is terrific,” he says. “She's extremely accomplished at the most difficult of management tasks: managing creativity. She is also a measured voice of calm in a sea of constant change and intense activity.”
When Turner was hired as director of strategic planning and interactive ventures, she discovered that “lots of stuff lent itself to interactive,” she says. CBS chief Leslie Moonves asked her to pick a series to focus on, and she chose Survivor, creating a cost-effective—and profitable—live Survivor-themed Web show.
She introduced several online features for CBS sibling UPN, including a live-streaming video talk show around America's Next Top Model and character blogs for Veronica Mars. Monthly traffic to UPN.com leaped 50%.
Turner credits Moonves with embracing digital initiatives and providing “unbelievable” financial support (her staff has doubled over the years to 43). She also cites CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group President Nancy Tellem as one of many in the executive ranks who support her work.
In addition to the day-to-day management, development and maintenance of CBS.com, Turner is currently focused on Innertube. With original Web series and network brand extensions, the broadband channel will eventually offer content from CBS Corp.'s library of 2,600 titles and 100,000 hours of TV programming and also allow CBS to burn off episodes of failed network series, like Love Monkey.
As for her old dream of working in movies, Turner has no regrets about her career in network TV.
“I love this,” she says. “I've never had so much fun.”
And her 401(k) is doing just fine.