The experience was everything at this year’s Turner Upfront, held at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City yesterday. The annual rite is an opportunity for Turner to showcase its news, sports and entertainment offerings alongside its growing trove of advertising innovations. There was a lot of ground to cover in 90 minutes—nearly 17,000 hours of original content, anchored by some exciting new and returning originals, plus new ways for advertisers to connect with audiences. Some highlights:
Following a rousing entrance by Samantha Bee—whose Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS is the number one show on late night with young audiences—Turner executives kicked off the morning. President David Levy and President of Ad Sales Donna Speciale summarized the company’s transformation from traditional linear programming into a new era where experiences—across multiple platforms—are paramount. In Speciale’s words: “Everything we do at Turner is putting the consumer and the fan at the center.”
Turner has been investing in new ad models and data and content solutions through its Turner Ignite business unit. Most recently, Turner joined Fox Networks Group and Viacom to form OpenAP, the television industry’s first open platform to create a standard for audience targeting and independent measurement.
On the entertainment content side, Kevin Reilly, president of TNT and TBS was on hand to describe the networks’ recent overhaul, which includes hits like Search Party, The Detour and Angie Tribeca on TBS and Animal Kingdom on TNT. As he said, “if you’re not ahead of the wave, you’re dead in the water.”
James Corden gave Reilly an assist, rapping about the networks’ programming— a nod to his upcoming show, Drop the Mic coming to TBS this fall. Check out his rhyming skills in the clip below:
— Turner (@Turner) May 17, 2017
Reilly also announced a new four-year deal for Conan O’Brien’s late show on TBS, which will extend the Team Coco brand into digital content, gaming, pay TV and live events. Following that announcement, Conan O’Brien, Shaquille O’Neill and Anderson Cooper took to the stage for a free-wheeling conversation that veered into a bro-fest about Tom Brady, comedy as diplomacy and imperialism and Shaq’s crush on Smurf (aka Ellen Barkin) from TNT’s hit drama Animal Kingdom, which returns to TNT May 30.
The audience also got a peek of TNT’s much-anticipated new limited series, The Alienist, and you can too, below:
Next, the familiar faces from CNN—Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer—took a moment to take a stand for hard news in an era of “fake news.” Anthony Bourdain followed, announcing five new original series for 2018, and new seasons of his Parts Unknown, plus United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, This is Life with Lisa Ling, The History of Comedy, Believer with Reza Aslan, and others.
Finally, we’ll close with the following clip of truTV’s stars, including Andrea Savage of I'm Sorry (debuting July 12), the cast of Impractical Jokers, Adam Ruins Everything Conover and others describing what the Upfronts mean to them:
And if all this leaves you wanting to learn more, read Turner’s press release for the full details.