It's put-up or shut-up time for Time Warner's (TWX) TBS and TNT.
In the midst of a rebranding effort that began about two years ago, Time Warner's Turner networks group on Wednesday teased a concert hall full of ad buyers with a slate of new shows aimed at reversing recent declines in advertising and subscribers. The new shows look good on paper, and the video clips of those serials that were played on massive screens inside New York's Theater at Madison Square Garden seemed to please the large audience.
Nothing, however, is ever assured in picking TV shows, especially these days. Not only are Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) producing first-rate serials, young people have long since made room for watching video at Alphabet's (GOOGL) YouTube, Facebook (FB) and Snap (SNAP) .
TBS and TNT need a breakout hit, and that responsibility falls to Kevin Reilly, chief creative officer for Turner Entertainment, who began remaking the networks two years ago when he handed comedian Samantha Bee her own program.
"We're in the process not of a refresh but a top-to-bottom rebuild," Reilly said. "In this environment, if you're not ahead of the wave, you're dead in the water."
In deciding to buy Time Warner, AT&T (T) CEO Randall Stephenson argued that the legacy telecommunications company needed content to attract wireless customers. For many shareholders, Stephenson's reasoning made sense given that cable TV as an industry is losing subscribers and wireless internet services is where the growth is.