TCA16: Kevin Reilly on ‘Reinventing’ TNT, TBS

Complete coverage of the TCA Winter Press Tour available here.

Pasadena, Calif— Touting  a complete “reinvention” of TBS and TNT, the networks’ president, Kevin Reilly, said the veteran programming outlets will soon reflect a changing TV environment. 

Reilly, speaking Thursday (Jan. 7) at Turner’s Television Critics Association tour event, said the networks – through a four-pronged effort that will include the addition of quality originals, improved consumer experience, a new business paradigm and investments in growth – will radically change the struggling brands.

While Reilly admitted that the networks' ratings are down – mostly, he said, due to inadequate Nielsen measurement – he said the new strategy will bring greater fortunes to Turner.

“We tend to rewrite the rules for what a TV network is in the marketplace,” Reilly said. 

He conceded the transition won’t be easy, particularly in a crowded cable environment, and will take upward of about three years, but the networks are in it for the long run. 

“It will be a hairy couple of years, and we're going to feel it but we’ll fight though it,” he said.

Reilly wants to limit the number of ads in TNT shows in particular, and said the network is in negotiations to add eight to 10 minutes of additional content to one-hour shows this summer. A potential 50% ad load reduction next season for original hour-long shows would create "real change on the business structure," Reilly said.

Part of the transition will be moving on without Rizzoli and Isles. The upcoming seventh season of the female buddy-cop drama will be its last, Reilly said.

"It felt like it was time,” he said.

The 13-episode final season will premiere this summer.

Last month, TNT renewed drama series Major Crimes, The Librarians and Murder in the First, while opting not to renew Legends, Public Morals and Agent X.

Jessika Walsten of B&C contributed to this report.

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.