WarnerMedia's Jeff Zucker Says Turner Sports in 'Terrific' Shape

Recently named WarnerMedia news and sports chairman Jeff Zucker said Tuesday that Turner Sports is in "terrific" shape and that he views both news and sports as similar with regards to his programming approach.

“I think news and sports are very much the same in the sense that they’re both about human beings and drama and stories,” Zucker, who oversees CNN, told reporters attending CBS and Turner’s annual NCAA 'March Madness' college basketball tournament press breakfast. “I’ve personally gone back and forth between the two, and I think that’s why I’ve always tried to bring the same approach to both. It’s about telling a great story.”

Zucker, who was named to the new post last week amid the recent departures of Turner president David Levy — who previously oversaw Turner Sports — and HBO chairman Richard Plepler, said that Turner Sports is well positioned with its combination of strong linear cable network outlets such as TNT and TBS, marquee sports packages including deals with the NBA and Major League Baseball, and its digital streaming presence with Bleacher Report Live.

Related: WarnerMedia Plots OTT Plan Amid Departures 

“It's the combination of the three that will continue to be the strategy, and we want to make sure we’re playing in all three [areas].” he added.

Zucker also wouldn’t rule out partnering with CBS to go after more high-profile league sports packages in the future, something that CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus also endorsed.

“We partnered with Turner on the PGA championship for a number of years and that worked out really well,” McManus told reporters. “We’re open to doing partnerships if it makes sense for both partners. There’s nothing specific on the books, but I could see us teaming with Turner on other properties.”

Zucker, who said he launched his television career working as a producer on NBC’s 1988 Olympics coverage, said that he sees additional growth for Turner Sports in new, emerging sports that will require some business development. “The combination of the linear channels as well as Bleacher Report Live gives us the opportunity to foster growth there,” he said. 

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.