Complete coverage of the 2012 upfronts
Upfront 2012 Marketplace: Buyers See Plenty of Content, But No Hits
ABC: Lee Looks to Build on Drama Successes
CBS: Key Shifts for 'Two and a Half Men,' '2 Broke Girls'
Fox: Taking Another Swing at Four-Comedy Tuesday
NBC: Betting Big on Comedy, 'The Voice'
CW Shifts Six of Its Seven Returning Series
USA: Expanding Beyond Drama
ESPN: Promoting 'Face' Value
Univision: Getting Into the TV Everywhere Game
Telemundo Media Hopes to Capture 'Duality' of Hispanic Audience
Fox Hispanic Media: Breaking the Hispanic Network Mold
Discovery en Español Gets in the Game
This year, the projectors and other electronics all worked for Turner Broadcasting. Turner made the most of last year's tech failure, opening with a film showing execs still suffering "post-upfront traumatic stress disorder" getting tips from network stars on what to do if there were issues again this year.
In the tape, Conan O'Brien assumed Turner would be too smart to again hold its presentation at 9:30 a.m. at that "Hammerstein place." And the stars of TNT's Franklin & Bash advised Michael Wright, president/ head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, that their secret was to bare their bottoms, and began by assessing Wright's, just in case.
After the video, Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, whose quick thinking and good humor saved last year's presentation, emerged with an overhead projector and a set of cardiac de! brillators.
"I'm pleased to introduce to you the most modern technology ever used in an upfront presentation," he joked.
Turning serious, Koonin discussed Turner's strategy of evolving linear networks TNT and TBS into "branded video destinations" for a new television age. But at the same time, Turner plans to build new programming on the strength of one of TV's oldest concepts: using strong, compatible lead-ins to grow ratings and reach.
For TNT, the company identified four types of drama viewers-armchair detectives, action-adventure seekers, competition junkies and relationship drama fans. The shows are designed to have a "popcorn" quality of easy-to-watch entertainment.
TBS was focused on two types of comedy fans: comedy relatables, who love shows like The Big Bang Theory, which has lifted the network to the top spot in the cable ratings; and comedy rebels, who prefer Family Guy.
Turner laid out a slate of programming that indicated the company is making a significant investment to revive a slumping TNT-something that always resonates with media buyers and clients. Turner also offered up an array of unscripted shows, an area where it has not had much success.
The company is also investing in maximizing its multiple-screen capacity by creating compelling digital content that can play independently from on-air programs.
Toward that end, Koonin said Turner has invested in video company Funny or Die and will be the exclusive sales agent for its Web video content, which should fit in with TBS and Adult Swim. "Marrying these brands together will create an advertising solution for you," Koonin told media buyers.
Finally, Donna Speciale, previously an influential buyer at MediaVest and now Turner Entertainment's new president of ad sales, took the mike. She said it was surreal to be onstage at an upfront. "What a difference a few months can make," she said. "You are now looking at the new closer."
Speciale insisted that "the media landscape has changed, consumer behavior has changed. Technology keeps creating change, and TBS and TNT are changing."
She said that all divisions of Turner are collaborating to create audience synergies and integration across brands. "Our goal is to create big, smarter, more scalable marketing solutions," Speciale said.
"There was a lot there," said Jackie Kulesza, senior VP, broadcast activation director at Starcom USA. "They are really focusing on their target." Kulesza added that Speciale, a former Starcom MediaVest Group colleague, "looked great" in her new role.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette
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