Turner’s executive session started on a surreal note with TNT and TBS president Kevin Reilly coming out on a bike to hold an impromptu Q&A with Snoop Dogg, host of TBS’ upcoming revival of the Joker’s Wild game show.
“This is going to be my most memorable session,” Reilly said after quizzing Snoop Dogg on his TV influences, segueing into a discussion that focused largely on the future of the TV business and a likely contraction of the channel universe.
“I think you’re going to see additional consolidation and different corporate alignments,” Reilly said.
He later referenced the recent restructuring at Viacom, which identified six networks as flagship brands that would be getting the lion share of resources, with the rest rebranded as reinforcing channels.
“Viacom has already done their internal contraction, which was arguably overdue,” Reilly said. “It’s a good move, but that’s not going to solve everything overnight. It’s just that the means by which what television is and the means by which we’re delivering it is a transformation that will be picking up steam from here forward, and if you’re overexposed on linear channels, and you haven’t built an infrastructure and connection with an audience, you’ll find your entity under stress.”
There have been a handful of cable networks’ shutdowns in the past year, including NBCU’s Esquire. That may just be the beginning. “Floating 15 networks will not be sustainable going forwards,” he said. “In general, fringe networks, the tucked-in on the jet stream of rising tide, they’re not going to sustain.”
With just a handful of networks in its portfolio, Turner does not have that problem, Reilly contended.
“There was a very good business model — if you had leverage, you create another network. Turner was smart by not taking the leverage and forming three other networks but saying, ‘we’ll take another nickel on TBS or TNT or CNN’… We have a small portfolio so we don’t have that burden, so we’re very vigilant of turning where we need to go, so it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s an incredibly vibrant time, there’s more viewing than ever before, if you figure out how to be a part of that, there’s a feast to be had.”
Reilly also touched upon the Turner parent Time Warner’s pending acquisition by AT&T. “I can’t comment and won’t on our potential merger but should that come to pass, that will be one very big step in that direction.”