If Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes is to fight off 21st Century Fox's takeover advances, he must show his media company would be better off on its own. Key to this is fixing the Turner Broadcasting unit, which houses TNT, TBS and CNN, and accounts for half the company's profits. While Turner has enjoyed five years of double-digit operating profit growth, it is grappling with steep ratings declines at several of its networks-a situation even Mr. Bewkes has called unsatisfactory. The declines reflect changing viewer tastes. For a decade, TNT and TBS had a successful formula that emulated the programming of broadcast networks like CBS, with legal "procedurals" and reruns of broadcast shows. But viewers are gravitating to original dramas on FX, AMC and other cable channels, including dark, edgy, serialized programming-i.e. "The Walking Dead" and "Sons of Anarchy"-something Turner hasn't been producing. "They don't have shows that are buzzed about," said Billie Gold, vice president director of programming research at media buyer Carat. "They are stable and they are core, but shows that are really pulling in that 18 to 49 audience...are not Turner shows."
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