Turner: Programs Power Through Upfront Clips Snafu

Complete coverage of the 2011 upfronts
The Best and Worst of Upfronts 2011
ABC: Lee Gets Network Laughing Again
CBS: Scheduling For Strength
Fox: 'In It to Win It' With Big Bets Like 'X Factor'
NBC: Greenblatt Wants To Find His New 'Voice'
The CW: Pushing for More Original Programming
Turner: Programs Power Through Upfront Clips Snafu
ESPN: Flexing Its Marketing Muscle
Upfront 2011 Marketplace: Wet Week Clears Way For Hot Ad Market

Before and after a power surge that interrupted its upfront presentation last week, Turner Broadcasting made the case that its entertainment channels offer an alternative to the broadcast networks.

David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, talked about the power of Turner’s biggest entertainment brands, which feature “original programming that delivers the audience you want to reach with all the social connections you need in a challenging marketplace.”

Linda Yaccarino, executive VP and COO for sales, marketing and acquisitions, delivered a pitch for Turner’s context system, which promises to “put the right ads in the right place at the right time, making your ads work harder on our networks.”

Turner plans to apply context to all of its marketing partnerships, from the smallest billboards to the largest custom integration, Yaccarino said. What’s in it for advertisers? An increase of 25% in viewer receptivity, she said.

But as Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said, Turner has long promised that it would create shows that had the same prestige as broadcast television. Over the last few years, “we’ve showed you, we’ve sometimes bullied you into believing that our brands are the best alternative to broadcast television,” he said. “This year, we’re not twisting any arms. I don’t have anything to say.”

Instead, he pointed to an ad from CBS for its show The Good Wife, quoting star Julianna Margulies saying, “I was looking to do a cable show and landed on a network instead. I got my cable show, it just happens to be on CBS.”

“CBS is buying ads saying their shows are as good as cable,” Koonin said. “I’m thinking about having that tattooed on my ass.”

When Turner got the electronics working at its presentation, it was able to show media buyers some of its upcoming programming, including the TNT dramas Falling Skies, Franklin and Bash and Perception.

“The shows look good,” said Donna Speciale, president of activation at Mediavest, adding that Turner’s technical difficulties “brought the drama and the comedy and the reality together.”

Turner said it plans to launch a new franchise of original movies that will debut in November and December under the TNT Tuesday Night Mystery banner.

TBS has green-lit a new hour-long comedy called The Wedding Band and ordered 10 episodes.

The company also unveiled a long list of projects in development, including 10 scripted dramas at TNT and three scripted comedies at TBS. The networks also disclosed six unscripted projects in the works.

Turner also announced that Conan O’Brien will be taking his late-night show on the road, traveling to New York later this year and to Chicago in 2012.

Turner’s top show The Closer is going off the air after seven seasons, which caused star Kyra Sedgwick to tear up as she thanked sponsors for their support. Replacing it is Major Crimes, executive produced by James Duff of The Closer and starring Mary McDonnell, who has been featured on the show.

Turner is also planning a promotional push for TV Everywhere.

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Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.