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Turner’s plans for its channels
MUMBAI: US media conglomerate Turner has made its upfront presentation to advertisers. There’s a revolution coming to TBS and an evolution coming to TNT, announced TBS, TNT president and Turner Entertainment chief content officer Kevin Reilly during the Turner Upfront 2015.
Reilly revealed his initial strategy for the two networks, including plans for a major TBS rebrand, a shift in focus for the TNT slate of original dramas and an increase in the development and production of original content for both networks.
He said, “We’re on the move in a big way at TNT and TBS. We’re doing a proactive makeover of these networks. We’ll double the number of our original series on TBS and TNT over the next three years. And we’ll sharpen the point of view and be even more adventurous in our programming choices.”
Reilly’s plans for TNT call for a shift in the focus and tone of its original programming. The network announced an eight-part drama and two pilot orders:
- ‘The Alienist’ is an atmospheric, eight-part psychological thriller based on Caleb Carr’s bestseller and set in the world of Gilded Age New York City, from Emmy® winner Cary Fukunaga, Oscar® winner Eric Roth and Oscar nominee Hossein Amini.
- ‘Will’ is a series about a young William Shakespeare told in raucous style by Craig Pearce, the long-time writing partner of auteur filmmaker Baz Lurhmann.
- ‘Animal Kingdom’ is a family crime drama set in a gritty surf community from executive producers John Wells and Jonathan Lisco.
For TBS, Reilly’s strategy calls for a major reposition of the network’s brand and programming, all of which is set to begin by the end of 2015, as well as an expansion of the network’s original programming slate to more than 15 scripted and unscripted series over the next two years.
The first wave of new programming is set to hit in the fourth quarter of this year, with ‘Angie Tribeca’, created by Steve and Nancy Carell and starring Rashida Jones, and The Detour, a scripted comedy from former ‘Daily Show’ correspondents Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, with Jones starring. Bee and Jones are also developing a new issues-oriented series for TBS. Bee is set to headline the new show, which was teased during the Upfront presentation:
Also this fall, TBS will launch ‘Separation Anxiety’, a relationship-based game show with a unique twist. Reilly announced two new TBS projects as part of the network’s overhaul:
- ‘Wrecked’ is a newly greenlit ensemble comedy from up-and-coming writers Justin Shipley and Jordan Shipley and executive producer Jesse Hara. ‘The Group’ is a new comedy pilot about alien abductees from executive producer Conan O’Brien and ‘The Office’ producer Greg Daniels.
Earlier it was announced that TNT and TBS are the home of the Live Nation Music Awards, a new television event honouring the best live musical performances of the year. Set to be simulcast on both networks on 1 October, the star-studded awards ceremony will be produced by Live Nation Entertainment in collaboration with IMG and dick clark productions.
“The new TBS will have a huge slate of awesomely in-your-face and effortlessly diverse programming, while TNT will continue to deliver great drama and live event specials, but our presentation and portfolio will look dramatically different. Two big established networks with big resources and a renewed focus and energy, new brand positions, a robust slate of new originals, premier sports and an ambitious new digital platform in the making – it’s going to be incredible,” said Reilly.
Adult Swim: The network that targets young adults for over a decade has announced a slate of new and returning original programming in advance of Turner Upfront 2015 and the Adult Swim Party, which will feature a scheduled musical performance by award-winning artist Miley Cyrus.
The network, which is continuing to grow its slate of primetime originals, has become a powerhouse of comedy talent and their 2015-16 programming lineup features more than 30 new and returning series, pilots and specials, including a new comedy pilot starring Jason Alexander.
Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang president, GM Christina Miller said, “Adult Swim has always been known as a place for taking risks and for great talent to try interesting and unique things. Mike (Lazzo) and his team continue to raise the bar in knowing what the Adult Swim fan wants and this new slate of original programming adds to our growing line-up of primetime comedies.”
Joining the recently debuted ‘The Jack and Triumph Show’ and ‘Rick and Morty’, ‘Mike Tyson Mysteries’, ‘Black Jesus’ and ‘Childrens Hospital’ is the new animated series ‘TV Sucks’ from Brad Neely, along with live-action comedy specials from Brett Gelman and Jon Daly, and a new miniseries from Jon Glaser.
Cartoon Network: Momentum and growth across all screens are driving Cartoon Network into the 2015-16 Upfront. Turner said that powered by shows and breakout new series, Cartoon Network was the only top kids network to see ratings growth in 2014. The network’s momentum has continued into 2015 with double-digit growth and a climb into second place with kids 6-11.
The kids broadcaster said that series like ‘Adventure Time’, ‘Clarence’, ‘Regular Show’ and ‘Steven Universe’ are leading the charge, further establishing its position as the #1 network with boys 6-11, while also securing double-digit increases among girls 6-11 through 2014. Additionally, when in premieres, seven out of the top 10 shows among boys 6-11 on all of television were on Cartoon Network.
Cartoon Network added that its success extends beyond television screens into the digital and mobile space with immersive content that transforms its viewers into fans. Cartoon Network on FOD got more than 300 million orders. Cartoon Network Digital also published four apps in the App Store and Google Play last year, with mobile and tablet apps like CN Anything helping to expand the definition of programming for Cartoon Network by blending television and digital to create a platform-inclusive experience for fans.
Miller added, “We are seeing great results with our platform-inclusive strategy to expand the definition of programming across all screens. Whether in short or long form, there are no walls for how Cartoon Network can be consumed. Digital, mobile and TV have all come together for this new generation of kids, who are very comfortable with the sheer volume of choice; and when you deliver compelling original content and innovative ways of experiencing it, they will find it, engage with it, and share it on every platform.”
CNN: The broadcaster has announced two new series, adding to its portfolio of non-scripted programming in 2016:
- ‘Declassified’ an eight-part series, delves into true stories of America’s covert operations around the world. Hosted by former U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, also the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, each episode features a newly declassified mission told firsthand by the agents who lived it, while getting unprecedented access to the riveting and secret world of espionage. Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Stephen Lambert and Mike Rogers serve as executive producers on the series.
- Also in 2016, ‘The Eighties’ follows in the footsteps of the series ‘The Sixties’ and ‘The Seventies’ (premiering in June). From the multiple Emmy®-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, in association with HBO and Emmy-winning producer Mark Herzog, each hour-long episode explores the individuals and events that shaped the decade.
CNN has also picked up a second season of ‘The Wonder List with Bill Weir’ and a third season of ‘This Is Life with Lisa Ling’ for 2016.
These series join previously announced CNN originals launching in 2016: ‘Race For the White House’ narrated by Kevin Spacey and executive produced by Spacey and Dana Brunetti, which examines the most dramatic and compelling presidential campaigns in history; in addition to ‘Believer’, a spiritual adventure series hosted by New York Times bestselling author Reza Aslan. Then there is ‘United Shades of America’ (All3Media), which follows comedian W. Kamau Bell around the country in a thought-provoking, serious and humorous look at diverse cultures.
In three years, CNN has acquired or produced more than 200 hours of Original Series programming. The 2015-2016 slate will feature new seasons of returning series, including the ‘Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown’, ‘Morgan Spurlock Inside Man’ and ‘Mike Rowe’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It’.
HLN: In January 2015, HLN rebranded as the first all-screens home for the best social news and lifestyle content in the world. Taking a social first approach, HLN’s The Daily Share on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram, Vine and YouTube have garnered 1.3 billion impressions since its October launch.
HLN executive VP, GM Albie Hecht said, “HLN has hit major targets since rebrand. As of April, HLN and The Daily Share beat most other digital publishers and global broadcast news brands in engagement on social. This, coupled with our significant ratings gains, proves that the strategy for engaging our audience on what they are searching, shopping, playing, sharing, creating and watching, is working.”
HLN’s 2016 programming slate will feature the premiere of ‘Heads Up!’, the TV series based on the game and best-selling smartphone app from ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’. This 65-episode half-hour game show strip will be hosted by Loni Love, comedian, actress and co-host of syndicated talk show ‘The Real’. From famous names, to song titles, to animals — players must guess the word before them from their teammate’s clues before time runs out. Each team is made up of one celebrity and one civilian. In the first few rounds, two teams go head-to-head, but only one team will make it to the final round and play for the jackpot prize. And heads up: There are a lot of laughs along the way.
Returning to HLN’s lineup for a second season in 2016 will be ‘Jack Vale: Offline’ with six episodes. In this weekly series, HLN follows YouTube megastar Jack Vale, along with his wife, Sherry, and five kids, to see how he sets up the pranks that have become a chaotic family business. The series is produced by Relativity Television.
On the HLN digital front is ‘Get Forked’ (working title), from producer-director-storyteller Liza de Guia (foodcurated.com), a new digital documentary food series that covers where a chef’s culture, influence and background meets the plate.
truTV: In October 2014, truTV flipped the switch on an extensive brand makeover. Since then, the network has expanded its lineup of original programming.
truTV president, head of programming Chris Linn said, “We have turned over a whole new network, building momentum with a premium lineup of new series that will keep viewers coming back for more. We now have 17 new shows, with a slate that represents nearly 200 hours of original programming. These new shows, specials and pilots are the kind of fresh and innovative programming that will help us build on the success our ‘Way More Fun’ brand is generating.”
Over the past six months, the truTV audience has been getting younger, and the network has been climbing the charts as a result of its brand and programming refresh. Since the rebrand, truTV has garnered a median age of only 38, and its median age for the first quarter of 2015 was four years younger than first quarter last year. Primetime deliveries were up across the board compared to the first two months of the network’s brand and programming update.
truTV’s current shows include ‘Impractical Jokers’, ‘The Carbonaro Effect’, ‘Fake Off’ and ‘Friends of the People’. The network’s lineup of upcoming series include the scripted comedy ‘Those Who Can’t’, the genre-busting half-prank/half-sketch show ‘Fameless’ and the unscripted series ‘The Hustlers’, ‘Santas in the Barn’ and ‘Six Degrees of Everything’.
To keep its momentum going, truTV announced that it has greenlit two new series:
• ‘Adam Ruins Everything’, an investigative comedy in which Adam Conover hilariously debunks social conventions that most people take for granted.
• ‘The Driver’s Seat’ (working title), a show that literally hits the road to discover what people really dish about in the privacy of their own cars.
truTV has also given the go-ahead on three specials from ‘Impractical Jokers. And on the development front, the network has ordered five new pilots, including a television version of CollegeHumor’s long-running ‘Jake and Amir’. Also going to pilot are a guerilla-style game show, a docu-series about a weed distribution business run by four women, a new project from How to Be a Grownup’s Tom Segura & Christina Pazsistky and a docu-series that will follow a season of the FXFL’s Brooklyn Bolts football team.
Turner Sports: It made two announcements during Turner Upfront 2015, including a multi-year extension for its ‘Inside the NBA’ studio team and a brand new TNT series that will aim to capitalise on the popularity of the NBA.
TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’ studio show will continue to offer fans its combination of basketball insight and analysis, entertainment and social commentary with its unduplicated team of host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. Turner Sports announced multi-year extensions for each member of the studio team.
Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels said, “We truly believe ‘Inside the NBA’ is among the best studio shows of all time and a large part of its success is due to the unrivaled chemistry between Ernie, Charles, Kenny and Shaquille. We’re looking forward to continuing the creativity and pioneering spirit behind the show for a very long time.”
Turner Sports also announced that it is producing ‘The Dunk King’, an all-new reality competition series set to premiere on TNT during the network’s exclusive coverage of the 2016 NBA Western Conference Finals. The definitive dunk competition show will feature top dunkers as they take center stage to showcase their best dunks in a contest for bragging rights and a cash prize of $100,000. The show will follow the dunkers from tryouts to the competition rounds, with their fate being sealed by a panel of celebrity judges and fan voting. The final “Dunk Off” will take place live during TNT’s first-ever presentation of the NBA Awards Show, which is set to air after the completion of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.
The Turner Sports portfolio provides viewers with premium sports offerings including NBA regular season, playoffs and All-Star weekend coverage; MLB regular season and postseason telecasts; and exclusive NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship coverage (with CBS), as well as such digital platforms as NBA.com and Bleacher Report.
Turner Ad Sales: Turner Ad Sales president Donna Speciale in her introduction, cited two main components in Turner’s strategic arsenal that position the company for long-term success: content and data. “Convergence has arrived. Data and content are officially hitched. Turner is prepared for this critical inflection point. We have what it takes to make big things happen for you and your brands. It starts with our strategy: create the very best, premium content; deliver it across every screen to our valuable, engaged and very big audiences; provide next-generation advertising capabilities so we can truly connect your brands with these audiences; and back it all up with real results for you.”