Kevin Reilly Predicts an Imminent Cable Contraction

The Turner exec says the current volume of series won't likely diminish, but the number of platforms has reached a saturation point.
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Kevin Reilly

"We will be radically different in two years than we are today."

That's how Turner honcho Kevin Reilly summed up his own roster of original programming on TNT and TBS, noting that the current TV climate is starting to take a swift toll on the how platforms release series — and make money off them. What won't be different about his two networks, he insists, is that they'll still be around. Reilly seemed far less optimistic about some of the other (and seemingly countless) outlets contributing to the era of Peak TV.

"I think you're going to see additional consolidation and different corporate alignments," said Reilly, speaking Thursday at Turner's panel at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "There was a very good business model for a long time. If you had leverage, you created another network. [Turner] kept with a very tight [catalog of networks]. The entities that are floating six, eight, 15 networks — that's not going to sustain."

Reilly started his time onstage at the Beverly Hilton with a strange bit involving low riders and a brief Q&A with TBS talent Snoop Dogg, and quickly segued into taking questions from the audience. He volunteered that he could not comment on the AT&T/Time Warner merger, which will have some impact on all Turner networks, instead hyping his roster of original comedies and dramas. It's been nearly three years since the former Fox chief joined Turner Entertainment as chief creative officer, and his new era of programming only recently started to manifest on air.

What he was not there to hype was the umbrella term "Peak TV," one that Reilly clearly has some issues with.

"I really don't like the term 'Peak TV,'" he said. "It's the canary in the coal mine of things going down. I think the peak, in terms of delivery in its traditional box, is now."

Reilly has felt the effects of the surplus of original programming. He emphasized that ratings for all but one of the top 20 returning shows on cable is down, often by double digits (the exception being his TNT drama Animal Kingdom).

"I don't love that systemic effect," he said of declining linear ratings, "but I really love the work that's being done."