Cable Nets Step Up Presence At Annual TCA Tour

Cable will showcase its 2014 original programming in a big way this week during the Winter 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.

More than 33 cable networks are scheduled to roll out their respective original scripted series, specials, movies, documentaries and reality fare — along with the shows’ celebrity stars and producers — to more than 200 TV writers and bloggers during the three-and-a-half- day, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing-produced cable portion of the popular TV programming confab.

That’s way up from the 21 networks that presented over just two days a year ago.

And the tally doesn’t include networks like FX, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Showtime, USA Network and Syfy, which will present their new shows alongside their respective broadcast network brethren during the broadcast TV portion of the tour later this month.

Recently launched cable networks such as Pivot and Revolt hope to make some programming noise during their respective TCA sessions, while upstart Latino-targeted El Rey Network officially reveals its operational and programming plans.

The industry looks to build momentum from a huge 2013 that saw networks generate big ratings numbers and critical acclaim for a slew of quality original programs. Cable networks drew a record 70% of the advertiser-targeted 18-49 demo last year, compared to 30% for the broadcast networks, according to Nielsen, mostly based on high-profile original shows such as AMC’s The Walking Dead.

This past September, a “big four” of cable programmers — HBO, AMC, Showtime and Comedy Central — accounted for 15 of the 26 primetime Emmy Awards, more than doubling the combined take of broadcast’s Big Four, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

As a result, it seems cable networks such as Discovery Channel, AMC, OWN, TV One, Lifetime, MTV, Starz, HBO and TNT are anxious to build awareness and buzz for a new crop of original shows that they hope will capture the zeitgeist of TV in 2014.

The New Year’s Eve ball may have officially dropped, but cable’s 2014 celebration arguably begins this week in Pasadena, with a focus on rolling out content that will continue to grab the eyeballs of cable viewers and TV critics alike.