Bob Greenblatt Named WarnerMedia Entertainment Chairman; Jeff Zucker and Kevin Tsujihara Expand Roles

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Six months after leaving NBC, Bob Greenblatt has resurfaced as chairman of WarnerMedia’s entertainment and direct-to-consumer businesses. That’s a fancy way of saying he’ll oversee HBO, Turner and the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service.

Additionally, CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara are expanding their roles, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said on Monday. The additions in both personnel and responsibilities are part of an overall AT&T shakeup of its entertainment assets.

“We have done an amazing job establishing our brands as leaders in the hearts and minds of consumers,” Stankey said. “Adding Bob Greenblatt to the WarnerMedia family and expanding the leadership scope and responsibilities of Jeff, Kevin and Gerhard — who collectively have more than 80 years of global media experience and success — gives us the right management team to strategically position our leading portfolio of brands, world-class talent and rich library of intellectual property for future growth.”

Also Read: Hollywood Worries: Will HBO Still Be the Home of Prestige Television After Richard Plepler’s Departure?

“I’m honored to be joining WarnerMedia during such an exciting time for the company and the industry as a whole, and I look forward to working alongside the many talented executives and team members across the company,” Greenblatt said. “WarnerMedia is home to some of the world’s most innovative, creative and successful brands and we’re in a unique position to foster even deeper connections with consumers. And it goes without saying I will always have a soft spot in my heart for HBO going back to the rewarding experience I had producing Alan Ball’s ‘Six Feet Under.’”

Adding sports to his purview, Zucker becomes chairman of WarnerMedia news and sports while maintaining his title of president at CNN. Tsujihara will continue on as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., and will also now oversee a new global kids and young adults business.

Finally, Gerhard Zeiler is switching roles from his job as president of Turner International to become the chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia. Zeiler will oversee all the ad sales and affiliates.

Also Read: David Levy Steps Down From Turner: Read His Internal Memo Here

Below are detailed bullet points on how the shakeup will impact various departments. It’s a pretty handy cheat sheet for a bunch of moving parts.

  • WarnerMedia Entertainment led by Bob Greenblatt will include HBO, the linear cable networks
    TNT, TBS and truTV, and the Direct-to-Consumer business. This change will provide the
    company with the agility and flexibility needed to build WarnerMedia’s brands across a variety of
    evolving distribution models with a more coordinated approach to the company’s original
    programming.
  • WarnerMedia News & Sports will include CNN Worldwide (CNN, CNN.com, CNN
    International, CNN en Español, HLN, Great Big Story), Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and the
    AT&T Regional Sports Networks. Jeff Zucker will continue to lead CNN and now run this
    expanded organization to capitalize on the importance of live news and sports content, as well as
    helping to build on the strengths of the company’s two industry-leading digital properties –
    CNN.com and Bleacher Report — to benefit consumers and advertisers in their respective market
    segments.
  • Warner Bros.’ film, television, and games operations will add a new Global Kids & Young
    Adults business that brings together the family, kids and animation efforts from across
    WarnerMedia, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Additionally, Otter
    Media, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development
    for WarnerMedia properties will also reside here. Kevin Tsujihara will spearhead these efforts
    and continue to lead Warner Bros. which, under his direction, has become the only studio with
    premiere positions in television, film and videogames.
  • The company will consolidate all WarnerMedia Affiliates and Advertising Sales Groups under
    one unified structure led by Gerhard Zeiler. He will utilize his broad experience in both public
    and commercial broadcasting sectors across multiple geographies to unite all of the WarnerMedia
    network affiliate sales and advertising sales businesses to help benefit advertisers, distributors,
    partners and the company.

Also Read: With Exit of HBO and Turner Chiefs, AT&T Tries to Fix What Ain’t Broken (Analysis)

Word of Greenblatt’s new role with WarnerMedia began trickling out last week, which coincided with the departures of HBO’s longtime CEO Richard Plepler and Turner president David Levy. Also last week, an appeals court blocked the Justice Department’s challenge to AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. AT&T closed the merger in June, only days after it received approval from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on the $85.4 billion deal. At the time, Leon said he didn’t believe an appeal would be successful.

Turner still has Kevin Reilly steering its programming side, including WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service, but it is HBO that will find itself in an unfamiliar position: Having to be more closely aligned under a large corporate umbrella.

Though HBO has been owned by Time Warner for years, Plepler experienced a huge level of autonomy under former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey signaled last year that things would be different under the new owners. Greenblatt, as a former entertainment of HBO rival Showtime, would’ve been Plepler’s boss.

On the Turner side, Greenblatt and Zucker face a key sports rights deal, just as their main negotiator is exiting.

Levy’s biggest contribution for Turner was on the sports side, where he negotiated media rights deals with the NBA and MLB, as well as its very successful partnership with CBS Sports for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The company’s NBA deal doesn’t expire until 2025 and its March Madness deal goes until 2032, but its MLB deal is up in 2021.

Right around now is the time that Turner and MLB would typically enter in renewal negotiations, which usually start two years out from the expiration. Turner renewed its last deal with the NBA in 2014, when that prior deal was set to expire in 2016. Last year, Fox renewed its own deal with the MLB through 2028.

Greenblatt stepped down from his post at NBC in late September, with George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy taking over.

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Turner Boss Kevin Reilly Doesn’t Want WarnerMedia to Share ‘Friends’ With Netflix

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Will “Friends” remain on Netflix after 2019? Probably not, if Turner chief Kevin Reilly has anything to say about it.

When asked by a reporter during the Television Critics Association press tour if the plan is to pull Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe “completely off of” the rival streamer and put it exclusively on the upcoming WarnerMedia SVOD product, or if he’s open to a “multi-share, multi-window thing,” he said he’d rather not let Netflix have it too — in a very roundabout way.

“I think you can expect that, uh, kind of the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on the service,” Reilly said. “So pulling it, pulling it away [sic] — but it certainly is something that we’re going to be looking to do. And I think for the most part sharing destination assets like that, it is not a good model to share them. My belief is that they should be exclusive to the service.”

Also Read: ‘Friends’ Likely to Stream on WarnerMedia’s New Service Too

Last Dec. 3 was a rollercoaster ride for “Friends” fans, as it initially appeared that the classic NBC comedy would be removed from Netflix on Jan. 1. Later that same day, the streaming giant quelled subscribers’ fears, announcing that “Friends” will stick around through 2019.

Just one day later, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said the upcoming WarnerMedia SVOD product would also likely house the must-see TV show, during the 46th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. But he didn’t say anything about that platform being the only one to house it.

“That’s a Warner Bros. property,” the AT&T Chairman and CEO said at the time. “Well, [Netflix] re-signed it on a non-exclusive basis. What does that mean? That means ‘Friends’ could go on to our platform as well.”

Also Read: ‘Pivot!’ ‘Friends’ to Remain on Netflix Through 2019, Streaming Service Says

“That’s content that we would definitely want on our platform, and it’s obviously very important to Netflix as well,” Stephenson tacked on to the “Friends” conversation a few minutes later. “So, it’s kind of a logical situation. Is it necessary that it be exclusive to WarnerMedia on their product? No, it’s not necessary — it’s just important that we have the content.”

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Kevin Reilly Talks ‘Snowpiercer’ Problems, Blames Original Showrunner’s Lack of TV Experience

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Turner boss Kevin Reilly addressed the troubled production of TNT’s upcoming “Snowpiercer” adaptation during the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday.

The adaptation of the Bong Joon Ho’s 2014 film was picked up more than a year ago, but has been derailed by behind scenes the drama, including director and showrunner changes. The upcoming series still does not have a premiere date, nor has it shown any footage.

“We had a pilot that was really promising with some creative people behind it,” Reilly said Monday. “In that case it was a filmmaker who hadn’t really done television before; mounting a series was a different order.”

Also Read: Turner Sports Signs Multi-Year Deal With Alliance of American Football

Josh Friedman wrote the pilot and was set to serve as showrunner, but was replaced by “Orphan Black” co-creator Graeme Manson in February, a decision the network attributed to creative differences. (In a tweet shortly after he departed, Friedman wrote that he “was fired from Snowpiercer in the same phone call I was told it was picked up.”)

Months later, Friedman went after Manson on Twitter, writing that he is “either an idiot, a coward, or a vichy motherf–er.” He continued: “If you’re asked to rewrite someone or take over their show it seems like good sense and good karma to reach out to that person first and a) find out what the circumstances of their departure are and b) thank them for doing the work you’ll be profiting from.”

Following Friedman’s exit, Scott Derrickson exited the project due to a “radically different vision” from Manson, and was replaced by James Hawes.

Also Read: ‘Howard the Duck’ Animated Series Set at Hulu as Part of Multi-Show Deal With Marvel TV

On Monday, Reilly praised Manson for taking over “Snowpiercer” and called him “a consummate professional” and said he “built off the template of what we had.” He said he’s seen all the episodes and that the network is just figuring out the best time to air it. “I’m very excited about it.”

The series is based on Bong Joon Ho’s film of the same name, about a ginormous train that circles the frozen wasteland the earth has become and houses what is left of the human race. While the train moves, its inhabitants struggle with the same political and culture issues the world has dealt with for centuries, including social injustice, class warfare and the fight for survival.

Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner, Susan Park, Benjamin Haigh, Sasha Frolova, Katie McGuinness, Alison Wright, Annalise Basso, Sam Otto, Roberto Urbina, Sheila Vand and Lena Hall make up the cast.

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Kevin Reilly Reveals First Content Details Of New WarnerMedia Streaming Service – TCA

Read on: Deadline.

WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service will bring together its “treasure trove” of 42,000 hours of content from HBO as well as brands such as DC, Looney Tunes, Turner, The CW and CNN after Kevin Reilly for the first time lifted the lid on the cont…

‘Friends’ To Be Ultimately Exclusive On WarnerMedia Platform, Kevin Reilly Says – TCA

Read on: Deadline.

TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly, who is involved in the oversee of the new WarnerMedia streaming service, said Monday that in regards to Friends down the road, the series is bound to play exclusively on the new platform.
“I think you can expec…

TNT’s Sarah Aubrey to Head Originals for WarnerMedia’s Upcoming Streaming Service

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Kevin Reilly is building out the team for WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service, naming TNT executive Sarah Aubrey to serve as head of originals.

“I’m naming my longtime colleague Sarah Aubrey to Head of Original Content, reporting to me,” Reilly said in a memo to staff. “In this position Sarah will oversee all original series and feature films for the new service.” Meanwhile, TBS’ Brett Weitz has been promoted to general manager of both TBS and TNT. Last month Reilly was given creative oversight of the upcoming streaming offering, being named as chief creative officer.

Also Read: Turner’s Kevin Reilly to Lead Content for WarnerMedia’s Upcoming Streaming Service

WarnerMedia is expected to debut its streaming service in Q4 2019, offering three levels of subscriptions: An “entry-level movie-focused” package, a “premium service” with original programming and blockbuster movies and a third service that bundles content from the first two, plus a library of WarnerMedia and licensed content. Pricing for the tiers was not specified.

Aubrey most recently was executive vice president of originals at TNT, first joining in 2015. She has worked very closely with Reilly as they built up TNT’s scripted fare into an awards player, most recently with “The Alienist,” and helped to launch the Chris Pine-fronted “I Am the Night,” which is executive produced by “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins. For Weitz, the promotion adds TNT to his purview after serving as exec vice president of programming at TBS .

Read Reilly’s full memo to staff below:

Today I am very pleased to announce two key executive moves to position us moving forward.

First relating to the new WarnerMedia streaming service, I’m naming my longtime colleague Sarah Aubrey to Head of Original Content, reporting to me. In this position Sarah will oversee all original series and feature films for the new service.

Sarah will collaborate closely with her counterparts across Turner, HBO and Warner Bros. as we prepare for launch later this year and soon build out a new slate of distinctive originals for the service. In addition, Sarah will continue to oversee her existing pipeline of TNT dramas during this transition.

Sarah and I have had a close working relationship since we collaborated on Friday Night Lights at NBC. She was one of my first recruits to join me at Turner, and her stellar evolution of the TNT brand as well as her reputation as a talent-friendly executive with great taste and finesse underscores the values we’ll prioritize on this new platform.

Secondly for Turner, Brett Weitz is being promoted to General Manager of TBS and TNT, reporting to me. In his new role Brett will oversee all scripted, and unscripted programming, as well as manage the networks’ scheduling, marketing and business affairs in close collaboration with Michael Quigley, Michael Engleman and Sandra Dewey.

The reinvigoration of the TBS brand under Brett’s leadership could not have delivered better results. From assembling a top-notch team to fostering relationships with established and emerging creative partners, Brett built TBS into a true force in original comedy with a series of ratings successes and awards.

Brett and I have established a shorthand and deep level of trust over the past four years and David and I are fully confident this level of execution will continue for both TBS and TNT.

Please join me in congratulating both Sarah and Brett!

Thanks,
Kevin

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Turner’s Kevin Reilly to Lead Content for WarnerMedia’s Upcoming Streaming Service

Turner’s Kevin Reilly to Lead Content for WarnerMedia’s Upcoming Streaming Service

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

WarnerMedia is expanding Kevin Reilly role, giving the TBS and TNT president creative oversight of the company’s forthcoming streaming service.

Reilly, already creative creative officer at Turner and president of TNT and TBS, has been named chief creative officer of direct-to-consumer for WarnerMedia. His new title is president of TBS, TNT and chief creative officer, Turner and Direct-to-Consumer. Because of his dual role, Reilly will report to both Turner president David Levy and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.

“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,” Stankey said in a memo Friday morning. “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.”

Also Read: WarnerMedia’s Streaming Service to Launch With Three Levels of Service

Last month, longtime AT&T executive Brad Bentley was named general manager and executive VP of the service. Bentley will take care of the launch and the business side of the service, while Reilly will be tasked with building up the content.

WarnerMedia is expected to debut its streaming service in Q4 2019, offering three levels of subscriptions: An “entry-level movie-focused” package, a “premium service” with original programming and blockbuster movies and a third service that bundles content from the first two, plus a library of WarnerMedia and licensed content. Pricing for the tiers was not specified.

The company says that the upcoming SVOD service is intended to complement WarnerMedia’s existing businesses while providing data and analytics to help with their decision in creating future products. Along with WarnerMedia, Disney and Apple are also launching their own direct-to-consumer offerings in 2019 in what’s becoming the new gold rush for media companies.

Reilly first joined Turner from Fox in 2014 and is credited with turning around the two cable networks and building up their scripted originals slate with dramas like “The Alienist” and “Angie Tribeca.”

Also Read: WarnerMedia Picks Brad Bentley to Run Upcoming Streaming Service

You can read Stankey’s full memo below:

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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Upfront Wrap-Up: TV Network Chiefs Grapple With Uncertain Advertising Environment

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you strip away all the glitz, glamour, buzzy new show trailers and jokes from this long week of upfront presentations, what you’ll see is a bunch of network executives simply trying to keep their heads above water in this ever-changing TV industry.

In fact, it may have been ESPN’s Kenny Mayne who unintentionally spouted out what many in the TV industry could use as their mantra: “I don’t know how the hell we’re going to do it, but I’ll be working on it.”

Faced with declining linear television ratings (NBC, thanks to the Super Bowl, was the only network that saw any improvement this season in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic) and no end in sight to cord-cutting, network chiefs spent the past week trying to put advertiser fears at rest.

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But at least there is one thing that both advertisers and media companies can agree on: The way TV audiences are measured has to change.

“I still cannot believe I have to get up on this stage and talk about legacy measurement,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and client partnerships, NBCUniversal, during the company’s presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Monday morning. “Aren’t we all tired of letting inertia rule our industry?”

But changing the way an entire industry has done business for decades can feel like trying to steer the Titanic away from that iceberg. They have to hope they turned the wheel early enough.

Also Read: CW’s Annual DC Crossover Will Include Batwoman, Visit Gotham City

“Let’s stop trying to measure everything using Nielsen. We’re so beyond that,” Barry Lowenthal, president of ad agency, The Media Kitchen, told TheWrap this week. “We measured exposure because we couldn’t do anything better than that.”

Nielsen has tried to include viewing on non-TV platforms with its Total Audience Delivery, but that measurement has so far failed to catch on with buyers and sellers. That has lead to the networks trying to come up with an answer themselves.

“The audience is there, we’re just simply not measuring them,” Kevin Reilly, Turner Entertainment Networks chief operating officer, argued to reporters following Turner’s upfront on Wednesday. “If you want to reach an audience on TV, which still is highly effective, nobody would debate it. What’s not effective is this measurement.”

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Although there has been a push towards “audience-based” buying, the majority of TV advertising is still purchased against Nielsen’s C3 metric, which measures how many viewers were tuned into the program during the commercial breaks, for up to three days after the broadcast. Yaccarino noted it was 11 years ago that the decision was made to use C3 as the main currency, back when “we used flip phones.”

But another media buyer told TheWrap that the solution shouldn’t be left exclusively to those doing the selling. “While some acknowledged the measurement is broken, not sure the rhetoric or solutions being showcased by the sellers is the answer,” said Shari Cohen, executive director of media investments for Mindshare.

The advent of streaming networks like Netflix and Hulu have trained viewers to expect fewer commercials, or none at all. That has had a domino effect on linear TV. Turner was among the first media companies that decided to cut back on the number of commercials it airs, and since then other networks like NBC and Fox have followed suit.

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Fox unveiled its new plan for cutting back ad loads this season, introducing its new “JAZ Pods.” While that sounds like incomprehensible ad jargon, it simply means that for some of its shows, the commercial breaks will only have two ads, just the “A” and “Z” slots that run next to the actual program.

Joe Marchese, during Fox’s upfront, said that this new format will be used on a variety of Fox broadcast and cable channels, including FX’s new New York Times series “The Weekly” and certain Sunday nights on the broadcast network next season. He said this would be bring down the total of commercials by as much as 60 percent.

Reilly said he’s glad to see other networks follow their lead. “It has to happen, and we have to continue it,” he said of making the linear TV environment less commercial heavy. “TV has got to get to that place where there is less clutter, and that will be more effective for advertisers.”

The fact is, despite the confidence network executives shared on the upfront stage this week, nobody really knows where the media industry is headed. “We’re entering Mordor,” said Lowenthal. “What’s on the other side?”

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TBS ‘Never Even Had a Chance’ to Nab ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ Kevin Reilly Says

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” fans rejoiced last week when NBC saved the Fox-canceled sitcom, picking up Season 6 for a midseason start. Among the extended “squad” members doing a happy dance was TBS president Kevin Reilly, who many thought would have a shot at bringing the critically acclaimed comedy to TBS since he developed the show during his time at Fox.

“I never even had the chance” to bid on the Universal Television series, Reilly told a group of reporters on Wednesday after Turner’s upfront event. Fox canceled “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Thursday, and fans erupted over the unpopular decision. By Friday, NBC announced it was bringing to show to its own airwaves.

With “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” only in the TV graveyard for one day, it would’ve been a quick call for Reilly. “I did get some incoming calls. I would’ve considered it, but I wasn’t going to do it overnight,” he added.

Also Read: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Save: ‘We Jumped on It Really Quickly,’ NBC Chief Bob Greenblatt Says

The Turner Entertainment Networks chief operating officer further stated that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” belongs on NBC since the show literally belongs to NBCUniversal. “Good for NBC, they stepped up,” he continued. “It’s their show and their studio.”

Nevertheless, Reilly was “very excited” that the show will come back for at least one more season. “It’s great people and great talent.”

Reilly elaborated a bit more on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” stating that they do own syndication rights to the cop comedy. “I’m not sure that there would be that much more value to have the originals,” he told TheWrap. While Turner’s TBS network has rescued canceled sitcoms in the past including “Cougar Town” and “American Dad,” Reilly said they’re more focused now on their own development pipeline.

Also Read: TNT’s ‘The Last Ship’ to End After Season 5

“TBS was a network that was about acquired product. We have taken huge steps to make it place that is about original product,” he continued. “It’s hard to then go back.”

However, he admitted that if he had an opportunity to rescue an animated series like Turner did with “American Dad” — which he actually canceled while he was the entertainment chief at Fox —  Reilly would “pick that up in a heartbeat.”

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Turner Asserts Its Reach Beyond TV Screen, Advertising Innovation: “We’re In This Together” — Upfronts

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Cable, Digital Execs Talk Rising Costs of Television Production, Marketing

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Netflix has shifted the balance of power in the television universe, pouring money into original programming and handing out generous straight-to-series orders. But Kevin Reilly, president of TNT and TBS, believes that there is an upside to Netflix’s tactics for linear and digital competitors. “I’m finding for the first time in a while, people are… Read more »