Turner Champions Industry Movement to Think Different, Challenge Status Quo at 2018 Upfront



For additional show information, photos and videos, visit the Turner Upfront newsroom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Turner Champions Industry Movement to Think Different,
Challenge Status Quo at 2018 Upfront

Stars and Executives Underscore the Value of Fan-Focused Partnerships -- Powered by Premium Omnichannel Content Experiences and Innovative Advertising Solutions, including a New Brand Studio, Turner Ignite Studios

Global entertainment, sports and news content leader Turner took the stage at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City this morning to urge the industry to move beyond business as usual and take advantage of omnichannel experiences driven by fans.

The show was punctuated with examples of how Turner’s premium entertainment, news and sports brands -- including Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Sports -- are creating multiplatform franchises that transcend traditional television models and deliver unprecedented levels of true engagement, not just passive viewership, for marketers to tap into.

Within the past couple of weeks, Turner announced two partnerships that illustrate the company’s mission of delivering content to fans across all screens, in all environments and spanning all experiences:

  • Adult Swim announced a long-term deal for Rick and Morty -- the #1 comedy in 2017 with millennials -- which includes a massive 70 new episodes for the critically-acclaimed, multi-platform sensation.
  • TBS and Conan O’Brien announced an expanded partnership spanning television, digital, social and live events that will enable the late-night icon to capitalize and interact with his multi-generational fan base across platforms. After 25 years on television and having amassed a deeply passionate and engaged fan base through the nightly show, travel specials, digital content, live events and fan interactions, Team Coco and TBS will take Conan’s enduring brand of comedy to his fans wherever they are. Team Coco will continue to develop industry-leading branded linear and digital content, further strengthening the relationships between O’Brien’s comedic brand and advertising partners as new talent comes into the fold.

 “Turner has invested in omnichannel experiences across the portfolio: truTV’s Impractical Jokers has jumped out of the TV screen and has extended into digital, social, live events and, soon, a feature film; ELEAGUE continues to break streaming records and engages hard-to-reach young audiences; TBS’s Samantha Bee has become an Emmy-winning, multi-platform powerhouse by blowing up the traditional late-night format; the Inside the NBA guys continue to drive the conversation that transcends the traditional sports studio show and has become a  pop culture phenomenon with both the uber and casual sports fan; and, so many more examples. We’ve made these investments because we know the value and importance to engage with fans.  It’s no longer enough to just have viewers – you need fans,” said David Levy, president of Turner.

“We are in a new era of media and it's time to retire the Nielsen television metric.  While it undoubtedly served its purpose, it no longer fully captures how to successfully measure an audience in today's landscape.  Turner has pioneered innovations, such as audience targeting, that more effectively align a brand’s messaging with audiences that directly impact their business. Audience targeting works and is generating drastically greater results for our advertising and marketing partners. The time is now -- this upfront -- for advertisers to change how they think about the value of their marketing and invest in audience targeting!”

Throughout a 90-minute presentation featuring Turner executives and special guest talent, attendees were provided a peek into a number of content initiatives the company has planned for 2018 and 2019 across its portfolio.

  • Adult Swim continues to be the #1 cable destination for young adults with one-of-a-kind programming -- including a greenlit pilot of Three Busy Debras, produced by Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite productions, as well as a new Harvey Birdman special featuring the original voice cast -- and innovative and immersive fan experiences, such as Adult Swim on the Green, the Rickmobile tour and the upcoming Adult Swim Festival in October.
  • Previously announced, Cartoon Network will be debuting its largest slate of content ever from a new wave of creators telling stories that are relevant and reflective of today's kids.
  • CNN touted the addition of six new Original Series to debut in 2019, adding to its successful portfolio of premium, nonfiction programming.
  • Over the last three-and-a-half years, TBS and TNT have been consistently introducing original series in the top 5 of their genre, including TNT’s The Alienist (#1 new series on cable) and TBS’s The Last O.G. (#1 comedy in on cable).
    • This year, TNT will be expanding its storytelling repertoire with Ridley Scott Presents, a collection of sci-fi series from the master of the genre, and a new franchise, The Suspense Collection, that launches with the Patty Jenkins-directed limited series mystery One Day She’ll Darken (working title) and Tell Me Your Secrets, an intense thriller starring Amy Brenneman and Lily Rabe.
    • The ongoing critical-acclaim, award-recognition and standout success of TBS’s programming has cemented its status as the #1 comedy network on TV. The network announced series renewals of 11 original shows, including The Last O.G., the biggest cable comedy launch in four years and the biggest comedy on cable this year.
  • Four years out from its emergence as a comedy network, truTV’s portfolio of proven comedic hits continues to grow with the addition of new projects like Tacoma FD, a scripted series co-created by and starring Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme (Super Troopers 2); the animated series This Functional Family currently in development; and, an unscripted medical advice show from comedian Ken Jeong.
  • And, Turner Sports got an assist from two-time NBA MVP and life-long soccer fan Steve Nash and newly-announced host Kate Abdo, who delved deeper into the division’s debut of its UEFA Champions League coverage kicking off this summer.

Alongside its deeper investments in omnichannel premium content, Turner is also expanding its commitment to providing a full suite of capabilities that deliver demonstrably greater results for advertisers than traditional methods and practices:

  • Turner is debuting Turner Ignite Studios, a new brand studio that brings together award-winning creatives from Turner’s entertainment properties to partner with marketers in creating custom and engaging intellectual property for digital, social and mobile platforms. Ignite Studios will provide a full-service approach for connecting brand partners with the army of fans across TBS, TNT, Adult Swim and truTV. With Turner Ignite Studios, CNN’s brand studio Courageous and Turner Ignite Sports, Turner continues its commitment to delivering brands a closer connection to the company’s unparalleled news, sports and entertainment footprint.
  • Turner was a first-mover in TV audience targeting with TargetingNOW in 2013, and led the charge, through a new solution called AudienceNOW, to evolve from traditional TV ad models to pure audience-based guarantees, similar to digital programming. The company is following through on its commitment to an omnichannel approach by expanding AudienceNOW to include cross-screen targeting across Turner’s digital properties running full episode players. Through a single audience target selection, advertisers can now increase the reach of their previously linear-only campaign, engage with consumers across premium digital and over-the-top streaming environments, and evaluate accredited, brand-safe and credible audience impressions on all screens.
  • In 2015, Turner’s truTV was the first television network to announce limited commercial interruption within its programming and has since announced that by 2021 its entire total-day programming will be adopting the format. Limited commercial interruption has expanded into select environments across Turner’s portfolio, including TNT, Adult Swim, and Turner Sports, and it will soon make its way to select CNN programming.
  • 100% of the company’s TV audience-targeted deals now run through OpenAP, an industry consortium, of which Turner is a founding member, that is standardizing audience buying within premium video. The OpenAP platform now provides cross-publisher targeting to more than 50% of the premium, linear video marketplace.

“We can no longer sustain relationships based solely on TV viewership. Today, we are redefining what an advertising partnership should be measured against, modernizing it for the way fans engage with our premium content. And, we’re simplifying it into a single media plan,” said Donna Speciale, president of ad sales, Turner. “Our clients have asked us time and time again that, in order to secure deeper investments from them, we had to create more premium omnichannel experiences with proven advertising solutions. Over the past half-decade, we delivered on our promises; now, it’s time for our clients to deliver on theirs. Let’s stop leaving money on the table and start creating brand experiences that not only produce much greater results on the bottom line, but also inspire fans in new, exciting ways.”

Turner’s expanded investments in premium content and advertising solutions come as the media company continues to grow its base of fans across the portfolio, which now reaches 8 in 10 American adults each month across television, digital and mobile platforms.

On linear television:

  • Turner has four of the top 10 cable networks in total day with Adults 18-49, with Adult Swim leading the pack that includes TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network. Turner also has three of the top 5 cable networks in primetime with Adults 18-49, with TBS, Adult Swim and TNT.
  • Turner continues to draw younger audiences, thanks to its growing reach among millennials:
    • Turner is home to three of cable’s top 5 entertainment networks in primetime among millennials, including Adults Swim (#2), TBS (#3), and TNT (#5)
    • Turner also claims four of the top 10 cable networks with millennials in total day, with Adult Swim claiming the #1 spot. The other three Turner networks in the top 10 are Cartoon Network, TBS and TNT.

A social media powerhouse, the Turner portfolio boasts more than 800 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

With its growing investments in premium content, Turner’s portfolio has seen explosive growth in VOD, including accounting for 12% of all set-top VOD transactions for Q1 2018.

A number of stars and personalities from Adult Swim, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner were in attendance for the morning event, including: Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning (TNT – The Alienist) with director Jakob Verbruggen; Anderson Cooper (CNN – Anderson Cooper 360); Denis Leary and Ellen Barkin (TNT – Animal Kingdom); Amy Sedaris (truTV – At Home with Amy Sedaris); Steve Nash (B/R Football); Bobcat Goldthwait (truTV - Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters); Michael Carbonaro (truTV – The Carbonaro Effect); Chris Gethard (truTV – The Chris Gethard Show); Niecy Nash, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes, Karrueche Tran, Jenn Lyon, Dean Norris, Jack Kesy and Harold Perrineau (TNT – Claws); J.G. Quintel (TBS – Close Enough); Damien Lemon (truTV – Comedy Knockout); Conan O’Brien and Jeff Ross (TBS – CONAN); Amy Brenneman, Enrique Murciano, and Hamish Linklater (TNT – Tell Me Your Secrets) with executive producers Bruna Papandrea, Casey Haver and Harriet Warner; Daniel Stessen and Stephen Merchant (Adult Swim – Dream Corp LLC); Method Man and Hailey Baldwin (TBS – Drop the Mic); Olan Rogers and Tika Sumpter (TBS – Final Space); Samantha Bee (TBS – Full Frontal); Brooke Van Poppelen and Kevin Periera (truTV – Hack My Life); Andrea Savage and Tom Everett Scott (truTV – I’m Sorry); Shaquille O’Neal (TNT – Inside the NBA); Joe Pera (Adult Swim – Joe Pera Talks to You); Snoop Dogg (TBS – Joker’s Wild); Jon Glaser (truTV – Jon Glaser Loves Gear); Cipha Sounds (truTV – Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks); Tracy Morgan, Tiffany Haddish and Cedric The Entertainer (TBS – The Last O.G.); Michael Moore (TNT – Live from the Apocalypse) with executive producer Meghan O’Hara; Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Karan Soni (TNT Miracle Workers) with series creator Simon Rich; Kristen Ledlow (NBA on TNT); Chris Pine and India Eisley (TNT – One Day She’ll Darken) with director Patty Jenkins and writer/executive producer Sam Sheridan; Michael Torpey (truTV – Paid Off with Michael Torpey); Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland (Adult Swim – Rick and Morty); Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early and Meredith Hagner (TBS – Search Party) with executive producer Michael Showalter; Daveed Diggs (TNT – Snowpiercer) with showrunner Graeme Manson; Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme (truTV – Tacoma FD); Maria Thayer, Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy (truTV – Those Who Can’t)

About Turner
Turner, a Time Warner company, is a global entertainment, sports and news company that creates premium content and delivers exceptional experiences to fans whenever and wherever they consume content. These efforts are fueled by data-informed insights and industry leading technology. Turner owns and operates some of the most valuable brands in the world including Adult Swim, Bleacher Report, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, ELEAGUE, FilmStruck, Great Big Story, HLN, iStreamPlanet, Super Deluxe, TBS, TCM, TNT, truTV, and Turner Sports. To learn more about Turner visit

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