Kevin Reilly, President of TBS and TNT and Chief Creative Officer for Turner Entertainment, is expanding his role at WarnerMedia to also oversee creative for the company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming platform.
Reilly, who will keep his current Turner responsibilities, has been named President TBS, TNT and Chief Creative Officer Turner and Direct-to-Consumer. He is being tasked with charting the creative identity of the WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer platform. Reilly and his team will identify the non-HBO original, library and licensed content that will go on the platform.
Because of his dual role, Reilly will have a dual report. He will continue to report to Turner President David Levy on the Turner side. On direct-to-consumer matters, Reilly will now report directly to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. (you can read Stankey’s memo announcing Reilly’s appointment below the story.)
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There had been speculation for awhile that Reilly may take on more responsibilities. He is said to be very well liked by top AT&T brass who consider him a good cultural fit with the company’s executive team.
Reilly’s appointment provides the key missing piece in the leadership of WarnerMedia’s streaming service. He joins AT&T veteran Brad Bentley, who was recently named general manager and EVP of the direct-to-consumer unit. A former VP of marketing at DirecTV who helped launch the DirecTV Now streaming service, Bentley will focus on spearheading marketing for the new platform. Additionally, Turner CTO Jeremy Legg was recruited to oversee the service from a technology standpoint. Reilly will work alongside them, handling all content and shaping the platform’s strategy.
Stankey in October revealed that WarnerMedia would launch its new streaming service in fourth quarter of 2019. It would draw from the the company’s vast film and TV library, which includes a slew of DC titles, classic multi-camera sitcoms like Friends, The Drew Carey Show (plus recent hits like The Big Bang Theory), and Warner Bros. animation. The hire of Reilly, a top-level programming executive with background in original series, is a clear indication that originals will be an essential part of the new service’s portfolio.
While Stankey had made it clear that the new OTT offering will be separate from HBO Now, there has been little information about its relationship with other existing WarnerMedia digital efforts, including the animation-focused Boomerang and recently launched DC Universe. (Korean programming service DramaFever was recently shut down.) An AT&T filing had indicated that the new service will be “consolidating resources from sub-scale D2C efforts,” reaffirming speculation that these existing digital platforms, including DC Universe, would be folded into the new platform.
Reilly’s promotion is somewhat reminiscent of Showtime CEO David Nevins’ recent elevation to Chief Creative Officer of CBS Corp. where he too added oversight of programming for the company’s new branded streaming platform, CBS All Access (as well as the CBS network and CBS TV Studios.)
Reilly, a seasoned executive who has run programming for two broadcast and three cable networks (NBC, Fox, FX, TNT and TBS), is known as a forward thinker. Since joining Turner in 2015, he has been experimenting with distribution patterns and multi-platform releases. Just a few months after he started his job, a series he had inherited, TNT’s Public Morals, put up its first four episodes on VOD as a batch ahead of their linear debut. TBS’ heavily serialized comedy Search Party debuted all 10 episodes of its first season over a long weekend, with the entire season made available on demand the night of the linear premiere. Reilly also introduced two 10-episode sub-seasons for TBS comedies.
In the past couple of years, Reilly also has been leading the charge in the industry-wide effort to reduce ad loads. Additionally, many of the original series he and his team have put on the air are very suitable for binge-watching on a streaming platform, with a number of them drawing strong digital viewing, including TBS’ Search Party, TNT’s Animal Kingdom, Claws and Good Behavior as well as the drama-focused network’s hit The Alienist, which is nominated for two Golden Globes.
There are three legs of a stool to any successful direct-to-consumer effort.
A winning customer experience made possible by the technology platform that enables form and function; a compelling marketing strategy that highlights the product’s attributes, brand promise and value proposition; and, of course, a content-curation vision that is tightly coordinated with the other two.
Today, I’d like to share our plans for defining and directing the third and final leg of our direct-to-consumer efforts and its executive leadership.
Kevin Reilly, President of TBS and TNT and Turner’s Chief Creative Officer will assume the additional responsibility of architecting the overall creative identity of the WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer offering and has been appointed President TBS, TNT and Chief Creative Officer Turner and Direct-to-Consumer. Kevin will report to David Levy, as well as to me in support of our direct-to-consumer development.
Since joining Turner in 2015, Kevin has revitalized TBS and TNT with branding and content strategies that have helped them maintain their leading position with viewers week upon week. He has a reputation as a forward thinker when it comes to programming formats and cross-platform opportunities. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that The Alienist, which he brought to TNT, is up for two Golden Globes this year.
In addition to Kevin’s current responsibilities, he and his organization will define the non-HBO original, library and licensed content that will characterize the brands that make up the overall product offer. HBO is an important differentiated and foundational element of our overall offering, and its brand and content will continue to be separate and supported entirely within HBO. A strong HBO is a key element as we work to establish our broader direct-to-consumer platform.
As Kevin, Brad Bentley and Jeremy Legg begin to develop the framework for our service, many of you will have the opportunity to engage in the development of this product. Through their efforts and your collaboration, I am confident that we will bring to market a world class direct-to-consumer product that uses all of our assets in new and compelling ways.
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