Upfronts 2017: Turner Shows New Content, Ad Results

Upfronts 2017: Complete Coverage

Turner Broadcasting came to its upfront presentation armed with new programming and results that proved that its new approaches to advertising produced better.

At the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Time Warner unit said it was committed to improving the viewing experience for consumers while boosting the returns on spending for its marketing clients.

"I've been with Turner for 30 years and what's clear to me, now more than ever, is that having a deep, diverse set of premium content is vital in not only reaching consumers, but turning them into devoted fans of your brand," said David Levy, president of Turner.

"From new content and ad models that break the mold to strategic investments in technology and platforms beyond just the television screen, Turner's upfront was about renewing our commitment to our highly engaged and loyal fans, as well as to our advertising partners who, in turn, support us in bringing these experiences and innovations to life,” Levy said.

Turner’s TBS said it signed a new four-year deal with Conan O’Brien that will keep his late-night show on the network through 2022. It also extends Team Coco, which creates digital content, podcasts and games.

TBS also greenlit three new series: Miracle Workers, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Owen Wilson; The Dress Up Gang, from Regular Show creator J.G. Quintel; and a reboot of the game show Joker’s Wild featuring Snoop Dogg, Tracy Morgan, Cedric the Entertainer, Taylor Mosby and Dante Hoagland.

TNT greenlit two documentary series, Michael Moore Live From the Apocalypse and Who Run the World?, from Sarah Jessica Parker, Morgan Spurlock and Refinery29.

Related: Adult Swim's ‘Shivering Truth’ Pilot Features Voices of Hill, Cera

TNT is also working with Ridley Scott to develop a night of original science fiction programming.

Turner will be rolling out nearly 17,000 hours of original content during the 2017-18 season. And its networks can be found on more apps and devices.

On the ad sales side, Turner said its premium content combined with data-driven ad products is showing results.                        

“We believe in pushing the boundaries. And we have the results to prove it. Turner is committed to leading the industry. We remain and always have been a trusted partner,” said Turner ad sales president Donna Speciale.

“We have rebuilt Turner to put the consumer at the center and to support you. To meet your needs and expectations,” Speciale told the media buyers in the audience. “We’re proud of how we’ve done it, and how well our solutions are working.”

Turner has done more than 130 deals based on specific audiences—as opposed to the traditional broad demos—using its TargetingNow and AudienceNow products—and the CPM (cost to reach 1,000 viewers) has been lowered by as much as 20% while in-target impressions rose 24%.

Related: Upfronts 2017: CNN Greenlights Five New Original Series

“I understand you are tired of paying more for less. Well, now consider paying more for more,” Speciale said.

Turner has spent the past several years investing in new ad models and award-winning data and content solutions through its Turner Ignite business unit, achieving big results for advertisers while keeping fans engaged with Turner’s portfolio.

Turner joined with Fox Networks Group and Viacom to announce OpenAP, which aims to standardize audience buying across the industry, simplifying it for agencies and clients.

Turner was also an early proponent of reducing commercial loads to improve the viewer experience and boost the effectiveness of the remaining ads.

First on truTV and later on TNT, the moves have paid off in deeper engagement with audiences, increased awareness of brands within that programming, and greater sales compared to traditional commercial breaks, Turner said.

truTV will significantly increase available inventory with reduced commercial interruptions, which will make up 15% of the network’s total prime schedule. There will also be additional original content from TNT that will be in this format beginning this fall.

Turner last year launched its Native Plus format, providing brands the opportunity to tell their story within Turner’s premium programming. Nearly every Turner network has utilized the format, with almost nine hours of traditional commercial time replaced with approximately 200 Native Plus storytelling pods.

Turner has also tapped into its social following across its brands to support what it calls omnichannel campaigns for advertisers. Through Launchpad, the company’s social optimization capability, more than 375 million views were delivered for brands in 2016. Turner said it is doubling down on Launchpad this year and expanding internationally to meet the global demand from marketers wanting to engage with the company’s fans across its portfolio.

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.