Bereft of leadership due to an exodus of top-level executive talent, forced into painful job cuts by its corporate parent, facing a sluggish ad sales market, battling pay-TV operators for distribution, and badly in need of fresh original series hits, Turner Networks turned to a widely popular television executive in its quest to rebuild momentum.
Former Fox Broadcasting chairman and top NBC executive Kevin Reilly will take over as president of Turner's flagship channels, TNT and TBS. He will also take on the new role as chief creative officer of Turner Entertainment.
Reilly is essentially taking over the job responsibilities of two recently departed Turner executives--former Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin, and former TNT/TBS programming chief Michael Wright.
The role of chief creative officer, meanwhile, is new for Turner, and is said to be the reason Reilly was enticed to join the struggling cable programming empire. Reilly will head the newly formed Turner Entertainment Programming Council, which will feature executives from TNT, TBS, Adult Swim and truTV and will look for ways to exploit cross-platform opportunities.
"Kevin is one of the most respected, innovative and influential executives in the television industry, and he's joining Turner Broadcasting at the ideal time for him and for the networks," said Turner Broadcasting president David Levy, in a statement. "Kevin brings a tremendous track record of success not only in terms of programming hits but also in the new media arena, where he was among the first broadcast network executives to push for meaningful investment in digital and social media. He has never shied away from taking bold programming risks and being a true champion of quality television. And on top of all that, he's an inspiring leader whose energy, creativity and style are a perfect fit for Turner's flagship entertainment networks."
Reilly joins Turner as ratings have slid for original shows, and ad sales have slumped. Making matters even worse, Dish Network--the No. 3 pay-TV service in America--said it might not renew it's licensing agreement with Turner.
Reilly's hiring was the bigger of two president-level hirings at major cable conglomerates Tuesday, with A&E hiring former ITV Studios chairman Paul Buccieri as president.
Ergen: OTT service on track for this year, Turner channels may not come back to Dish
Cable upfront dropped 6 percent to $9.6B, advertising bureau says
Turner set to cut 1,475 jobs … after committing $11B to the NBA