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Turner offered a new mix of execs, a new venue (the Theater at Madison Square Garden) and a new slogan for TNT in a May 14 upfront presentation acknowledging the need to evolve.
Weeks after Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes publicly singled out TNT as needing more buzz, execs took the wraps off a new slogan, “TNT Drama. Boom.” It will debut May 19 during NBA playoff telecasts. They also introduced Now Media, an integrated ad offering to bring together linear slots and digital and social presence.
“Technology is providing consumers access to more content across more screens than ever before,” said Donna Speciale, recently promoted to president of ad sales. “Giving them control on how they receive great content will further drive increased consumption and, in turn, value to our advertising partners.”
“We’re living in the entertainment version of the World’s Fair,” added Frank Sgrizzi, executive VP of sales. “Nobody likes to think about the future more than Turner.”
The event had a solidly produced feel, but upfront vets noted the absence of longtime exec Steve Koonin who recently departed for a management/ownership role with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
Michael Wright, programming chief for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, sought to strike a balance between reinforcing existing ratings strength with the need to think differently. Together in 2013, he noted, TNT and TBS had four of the top 15 shows on TV in total viewers.
“Change is good. And sometimes change is necessary,” Wright said. “TBS is in great shape. For TNT, change is in the air.”
Turner’s new series in the coming months include The Last Ship, Murder in the First, The Librarians, Proof, Public Morals and Transporter: The Series. Turner also plans one new reality series launch each quarter, with upcoming titles including the Mark Burnett-produced On the Menu and Wake Up Call featuring The Rock.
TBS, which has drawn big ratings with syndicated episodes of The Big Bang Theory, is building its originals lineup. Forthcoming titles include Funniest Wins, Sullivan & Son, Cee- Lo Green’s The Good Life and Ground Floor. High-profile long-runners include Cougar Town and American Dad.
Further down the road are Steve Carell’s Angie Tribeca and Buzzy’s, from the producers of Will & Grace.