TCA16: Kevin Reilly Continuing TNT, TBS Reinvention

Read more TCA ’16 summer tour coverage

TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly said Sunday that his reinvention of the top tier entertainment networks remains a work in progress.

Reilly told TV critics at the Television Critics Association summer tour in Los Angeles that he’s still in the midst of redefining how the two networks connect with audiences on a number of levels.

One area Reilly discussed was his push to reduce the number of ads in all TNT dramas shows by approximately 10 minutes per hour. He said the advertising community is embracing the concept and other networks are beginning to similarly experiment.

He added however, that it will take a concerted effort by the industry to effectively turn the tide.  

“If we get the results that we are beginning to see and others begin to see the same thing we cannot go it alone,” Reilly said. “If we’re the only two networks doing it, it’s not going to change the industry and we’re going to have to go back.”

Reilly also said the networks will continue to test distribution windows for its series. TBS for example will air the entire 10-episode season of its new series Search Party over the Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 21-25) and during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In addition,  all 10 episodes of the show will be available on demand the night of the premiere to encourage binge viewing.

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While Reilly admits that not all MVPDs are not enamored with such programming stunts, he said Turner is working with them to see the value of sampling several episodes to build interest in the series.

“What we have to educate is that we will never give away a whole season, but we’re in the five year business,” he said. “To get sampling for its first episode, and we’re trying to create a methodology. But we find right now these audiences end up being recruiting tools.”

Reilly also said he’s continuing to evolve its original programming slate with new and unique shows. While TNT has effectively moved away from drama series with close-ended storylines, he said such shows could make their way back to the lineup over the next two years.

“I do think there is still an audience that likes a good close ended story,” he said. “I think we will be introducing some of those in our next cycle towards the end of 2017, certainly going into 2018.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.