×

Time Warner CEO: ‘Not Satisfied’ With Performance At TNT, TruTV

Time Warner management is displeased with performance at some of the cable networks that are part of its large Turner cable-programming unit, the company’s chief executive said Wednesday in remarks that intensify the spotlight on recent executive churn at that operation.

“We are not satisfied with recent ratings and advertising performance at some of the Turner networks,” said Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chairman and chief executive, during a conference call with investors. Bewkes specifically cited results at reality-series cabler TruTV and drama-centered TNT, noting that both networks would have programming on the air in weeks to come that the company hoped would meet with favorable audience reception.

At TruTV, Bewkes said, “we followed a couple of strong years with a significant drop-off in performance” that he expected to be corrected over time with new programs. At TNT, he said,  “over the past few years, we didn’t take enough creative risks with its programming, and as a result, TNT has lost ground with younger viewers.” Bewkes cited new series like “The Last Ship” set to debut in coming weeks that “should help TNT expand its audience.”

Still, he noted, “these types of changes take time, and we won’t get to where we need to be in the next quarter or two.”

During the call, Time Warner executives noted that Turner was experiencing “drag from the ratings” for its entertainment content.\

At issue, said Bewkes, was the success of a bevy of edgier, serialized dramas available on other basic-cable networks as well as subscription video on demand outlets that have found favor among younger viewers – and the advertisers who court them. He cited AMC’s “Breaking Bad” as an example. While TNT dramas like “The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles” were big hits among general audiences  – and designed to appeal to a slightly older viewer – Bewkes said sponsors are now placing emphasis on a new type of programming that tilts toward a younger consumer.

Bewkes’ comments come as Turner is without a chief programming executive for its entertainment networks. Steve Koonin, the longtime head of TNT, TBS, TruTV and TCM, left the company earlier this month to become chief executive of the Atlanta Hawks. A search is on for a replacement that could come from within the company or outside of it.

Small wonder, then, that when Koonin stepped down, Turner President David Levy noted that “Change is happening across our company now.,” in a memo. “In the rapidly evolving media business environment, it’s imperative that we embrace and lead change in order to drive growth across our businesses.” Levy will be supervising Koonin’s duties in the near term, including Turner’s presentation in the coming “upfront,” when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad time for the coming season. Another executive, Greg D’Alba, who supervised CNN ad sales for years, also recently left Turner.

Separately, Bewkes said the company expected a recent deal to stream a select catalog of older HBO programs on Amazon’s Prime streaming service would create additional interest in the premium TV service, as Amazon customers got a taste for HBO content. The company intends to invest revenue from the pact into new programming for HBO as well as new technology that helps distribute HBO content, such as the HBO Go service for mobile devices.

 

 

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • WWE NXT

    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

  • The Chainsmokers Production Company

    Chainsmokers’ Catalog Acquired by Fast-Growing Hipgnosis Songs

    The Chainsmokers’ writer and publishing rights have been acquired by the fast-growing Hipgnosis Songs and its investment adviser, The Family (Music) Limited, for an undisclosed amount, the company announced today. The company has acquired 100% of the Chainsmokers’ interest in 32 of the duo’s songs, including ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) income in [...]

  • Hollywood Recession Business Placeholder

    How an Economic Downturn Could Ravage Hollywood

    Trade-war fears, stock market volatility and, most recently, bond market signals that point to a pending recession are rattling investors, igniting concerns that another devastating downturn may be just around the corner. As those worries reverberate all the way from Wall Street to Hollywood, the entertainment industry is in for an unsettling reminder of the [...]

  • RuPaul Charles - Outstanding Reality -

    RuPaul Charles to Receive Variety's Vanguard Award at Mipcom

    “RuPaul’s Drag Race” leader RuPaul Charles has been tapped to receive the Variety Vanguard Award at the Mipcom international TV sales conference, set for Oct. 14-17 in Cannes. The award recognizes television industry leaders who have made a significant contribution to the global business of entertainment. Charles has hosted and executive produced the VH1 franchise “RuPaul’s Drag [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    Chinese Streamer iQIYI Squeezed by Changing Content Context

    Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI saw its losses deepen, in the April to June second quarter of its financial year. The company grew subscriptions, but was hit by rising content costs and lower advertising revenue Its parent company, Chinese search leader, Baidu saw its year on year profits drop, though it recovered from loss in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content