Two years from now, TBS and TNT will be “radically different than where we are sitting here today,” said Kevin Reilly, president of TNT and TBS and chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment.
He pointed to Claws and Animal Kingdom as two of the top-20 shows in cable right now, highlighting the latter as one of the rare series demonstrating a year-over-year increase in ratings, and saying the content is indicative of the network’s “early stages of evolution.”
Many of the changes underway, he said, are taking place behind the scenes rather than on air in the form of audience development, data optimization, a focus on social media, and product and app development.
“A lot of it is not outward facing, but some of those ratings, retention and growth are due to those efforts,” Reilly said.
Two years from now there will still be just as many shows, but less entities, he told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
“Are networks just going to drop off the map?” a journalist asked.
“Yes,” Reilly responded, predicting an increase in consolidations and corporate alignments, such as the potential sale of Scripps Networks.
Turner, he said, has “kept with a very tight pod” by investing in TBS and TNT, but as viewers turn more and more toward digital there will be “some expansion and radical transformation” in how they connect to television and “we’re going to be a part of that.” Reilly said.
“I can’t comment on our potential merger,” he said, “but if that were to come to pass that would be one very big step in that direction.”
Reilly also spoke to the future of Conan O’Brien, saying they are opening up his brand and beginning to create a formal structure around what it means to become a personality-based entertainer in television today.
O’Brien is “at the height of his career,” and how Turner is able to leverage his brand is “a little bridge of how we’re going to be dramatically different,” Reilly said.
Sports also will continue to be an important tentpole, with the personality of broadcasters shaping how the networks air not just a game, but a show.
“We’re not going to add 10 more sports, but there will be some expansion,” he said.
Reilly also entered the stage on a lowrider bike to the song “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” followed by Snoop Dogg, on a more elaborate lowrider bike, to talk about his role as the host of TBS’s revival of The Joker’s Wild.
What to expect?
“I’m gonna do my thang,” Snoop said.