Upfronts: Turner Execs Tout Multi-Screen Push, Cable’s Gains
Turner Broadcasting execs will talk up cable’s gains over the broadcast nets and efforts to court viewers on multiple screens at its upfront presentation at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Turner entertainment chief Steve Koonin and TNT/TBS/TCM programming prexy Michael Wright (pictured left to right above) also are set to unveil a slew of development projects with high-profile creative auspices including Steven Spielberg, Dick Wolf, Steven Carell, Jamie Foxx, Nicholas Sparks, Sylvester Stallone and Diablo Cody. The duo are expected to emphasize the broad slate of fresh series, scripted and unscripted, that TNT and TBS have coming in the summer and fall as a sign that the channels are nearly at parity with broadcasters in terms of reach and the depth of original programming.
Starting this summer, Turner will make the regular linear feeds of TNT and TBS available for streaming round the clock — a first for major entertainment cable channels. (Turner’s sibling CNN already offers a live stream of the linear domestic channel.) But TNT and TBS will only be accessible to those viewers who have TV Everywhere-style authentication through their cable, satellite or telco subscription service. Without authentication, Turner’s key distribs would revolt. It’s notable that the TNT and TBS live streams will include all of the sports programming carried by the channels, including NBA, Major League Baseball and NCAA Men’s Basketball championship games.
In courting advertisers to warm up to Turner’s plentiful new digital advertising options, execs will stress the investment that the company is making in research into quantifying the impact of increased social media usage and second screen activities around TV viewing. They’ve dubbed initiative “ATHENA,” or the Advanced Tool for Harnessing and Evaluating Network Audiences.
Programming-wise, Turner is expected to show off its most recent series orders to buyers, including TNT dramas “The Last Ship,” a disaster thriller produced by Michael Bay; and spy drama “Legends,” from “Homeland” exec producer Howard Gordon. TNT will also confirm that its much-anticipated period crime drama from Frank Darabont, “Lost Angels” (fka “L.A. Noir”), will air later this year.
TBS’ latest orders include comedy “Ground Floor” from “Cougar Town’s” Bill Lawrence. Wright is also poised to talk upthe growing investment in high-end unscripted series for both channels, from Wolf-produced series “Cold Justice” to Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Marshal Law: Texas” for TNT to a docu-series on Cee Lo Green and latenight companion series for Conan O’Brien hosted by Pete Holmes launching in November.
The TNT and TBS development slates are expansive, from a redo of “Peter Gunn” by Spielberg’s Amblin TV and top showrunners Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec to a pop culture-focused series, “Me Time,” hosted by writer Cody; and a Jamie Foxx take on a domestic comedy with “Dad, Stop Embarrassing Me.” David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, two sitcom vets who have struck out of late on broadcast nets, are nurturing “Clipsters,” a workplace laffer set in a barbershop in Worcester, Mass.
Here are the development slates for TNT and TBS:
This project is the story of a group of young scientists who, while investigating what they believe to be a haunted house, stumble upon a portal into the time-space continuum. Things then take a turn for the worse when one of their own vanishes into the portal.