Four of the most powerful television executives in Hollywood — HBO programming boss Casey Bloys, Showtime CEO David Nevins, Fox chief Gary Newman and Turner creative boss Kevin Reilly — have lifted the lid on competing against each other and others in the current “complicated landscape.” The four U.S bosses were speaking on a panel at the INTV conference in Jerusalem, organized by Keshet and moderated by WME’s Head of TV Rick Rosen.
Newman, who earlier today revealed some details of its forthcoming 24 reboot to Deadline, said that “things are looser than they have ever been. The competition for us is every company you could list. Our competition are also frequently our buyers. Even Netflix. It’s a complicated landscape right now. You can’t get your feelings hurt or hold a grudge because you may compete or lose to them today and tomorrow you’re buying from them.”
Nevins added that the broadcasters all aggressively competed for talent and projects as well as for audiences and, for some, subscriber dollars. “We all compete,” he said. “But we can be complementary sometimes. In the old world, the dirty secret was when good things were happening for HBO, it was good for Showtime because we were so often sold together.”
Bloys, who took on his current role in 2016, agreed that streaming rivals such as Netflix and Amazon have also been good for the business, in general. “I don’t think someone’s success is to someone else’s detriment,” he said.
The foursome, who all showed long but A-list clips plucked with shows from over the years, also discussed the importance of streaming compared to linear broadcast and diversity during the 45-minute panel, which was light-hearted.
They also discussed which shows they would want from each other. Fox’s Newman praised The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory, while Reilly admitted he failed to capitalize on The Duffer Brothers’ work on Fox’s Wayward Pines before they created Netflix’s Stranger Things. “They were brand new baby writers on Wayward Pines and they started ghost-writing it. When I got to Turner, I had a note to call the brothers and I didn’t.” Nevins discussed how he would fantasy pick Silicon Valley from HBO, Netflix’s Fox-produced Arrested Development and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee from Turner, which HBO’s Bloys also coveted.
On the digital front, Showtime is considering premiering its shows online even earlier than it currently does, “with newer shows the trend is even more towards delayed viewing,” while Bloys revealed that 50% of viewing for Big Little Lies was on-demand or digital and that it now has around 5 million digital subscribers. “Sunday night continues to be less important because you can get repeats and on demand,” he said, adding, “Sunday is still important for Game Of Thrones.”
“If you’re not aggressively trying to figure out OTT or a better consumer product you’re really leaving a lot of money on the table,” added Turner’s Reilly.
The U.S. broadcasters are largely ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to diversity on- and off-screen. Showtime’s Nevins said that it was close to a 50-50 gender balance for showrunners, including on shows such as SMILF. “That’s somewhat by design but we’re trying to bring in new people and new voices,” he added.
Bloys revealed that 35% of its directors were either female or a person of color, while Newman said that it has put a “tremendous amount of focus on casting colorblind” but admitted that it could be “a lot better” behind the camera.
“I don’t like initiatives, I just like putting good people in the job,” concluded Turner’s Reilly.