While the broadcast networks stressed the reenergized power of the traditional linear platform this week—in great part to the rousing success of ABC’s Roseanne reboot—executives at Turner took to the stage at its annual upfront urging advertisers to target their strategies to “omnichannel experiences driven by fans.”
Linear consumption aside, this includes social media, VOD, apps, gaming and live events.
The term omnichannel is something created by the minds at Turner for an array of its platforms never known for attracting a traditionally sizable audience base.
”Today will be different; it has to be,” said Donna Speciale, Turner’s president of ad sales. “We are in a new era of media and it’s time to retire the Nielsen television metric.”
Focused on these omnichannel experiences under a new global brand campaign, “We Make Fans,” fan engagement, and not the viewer, is the target amongst the company’s suite of networks. Represented at the presentation were Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Sports.
“We can no longer sustain relationships based solely on TV viewership. Today, we are redefining what an advertising partnership should be measured against, modernizing it for the way fans engage with our premium content. And, we’re simplifying it into a single media plan,” said Speciale. “In order to secure deeper investments from them, we had to create more premium omnichannel experiences with proven advertising solutions.”
”Let’s stop leaving money on the table and start creating brand experiences that not only produce much greater results on the bottom line, but also inspire fans in new, exciting ways,” she said.
Part of the master plan across the Turner networks is to go beyond viewers and create communities of fans to interact with live through events such asTBS partnering with the New York Comedy Festival, Adult Swim on the Green, the Rickmobile tour, the upcoming Adult Swim Festival in October, San Diego Comic Con and the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.
“The beauty of our portfolio is we touch on almost every demographic – everything from younger kids on Cartoon Network and millennials watching truTV and Adult Swim to our fans watching news,” said Molly Battin, Turner global chief communications and corporate marketing officer prior to the upfront presentation. “For our advertisers, creating these engaged fan communities brings more value and attention to our partners.”
Front and center at the presentation, and pivotal in this movement at Turner, was Conan O’Brien. TBS recently announced a new partnership with Team Coco to expand its touring and online efforts while reducing O’Brien’s low-rated late-night show from one hour to 30 minutes in 2019. The focus will shift from celebrity guests to more young comics and off-site segments.
“The omnichannel, that’s the word that Turner paid $800,000 to come up with,” joked O’Brien. “I think that Kevin Reilly was staying in an Omni hotel at the time. If he’d been staying at the Sheraton, we’d be talking about the Sheraton channel right now.”
New Programming Initiatives
Turner President and CEO Kevin Reilly touted upcoming Ridley Scott Presents, a collection of sci-fi series from the famed director; and The Suspense Collection, which opens with limited series One Day She’ll Darken (working title).
TBS, which has “completely transformed,” according to Riley, recently announced the renewals of 11 series (including The Last O.G., starring Tracy Morgan, who was amongst the glut of stars present).
And four years after branding to a comedy network, truTV is a clear representative of this omnichannel experience care of mainstay Impractical Jokers, which has been touring across the country and will be featured in an upcoming theatrical.
The cable net also will introduce Tacoma FD, a scripted series co-created by and starring Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme. Two potential shows are in development: animated This Functional Family and an unscripted medical advice show from comedian Ken Jeong.
Elsewhere, Adult Swim has greenlit a pilot called Three Busy Debras, produced by Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions; as well as a new Harvey Birdman special. Cartoon Network is touting its largest slate of original content to date. And CNN has six new original series on the horizon, including Chasing Life with Sanjay Gupta and The Redemption Project, which follows the victim – or surviving family members – of a life-altering crime as they meet face-to-face with their offender.
Turner, additionally, is debuting Turner Ignite Studios, a new brand studio that brings together creatives from Turner’s entertainment properties to partner with marketers in creating custom property for digital, social and mobile platforms. The goal is a full-service approach for connecting brand partners with the fans across TBS, TNT, Adult Swim and truTV.
“We now reach eight in 10 American adults each month across television, digital and mobile platforms,” said Riley. “We understand the value of engaging with fans. You need fans, not just viewers, and fan engagement is our focus.”
There was no mention at the presentation, meanwhile, of AT&T potentially closing a deal for a reported $85 million to acquire TBS and TNT parent company Time Warner.