Connect with us


Turner CEO David Levy says content is still king, but television needs to evolve



David Levy, Turner president.JPGBrian Snyder/Reuters

  • Turner president David Levy said television needs to be
    rethought as people increasingly view shows on all kinds of
  • The AT&T-Time Warner deal will help Turner better serve
    viewers with better ads, he said.
  • Despite the growth of streaming rivals, Levy said Turner is
    still well positioned to compete with its own content. 

The TV industry is changing dramatically, with people watching
shows on all kinds of devices.

David Levy, president of media giant Turner, said he’s confident
he knows what the company’s founder and his longtime boss Ted
Turner would say about the current state of the business.

“Ted was a visionary,” Levy said Tuesday at Business Insider’s
IGNITION Conference in New York in a conversation with Geoff
Ramsey, chairman and cofounder of eMarketer. “He launched Cartoon
Network. Everyone advised him not to launch a 24-hour news
channel. He understood content was king.”

“He would be very bullish on the TV industry,” he added. “He
would say, television is everything. We don’t think about it as
this thing on the wall. We think about it as generating fans,
where fans are.”

Part of the industry’s response to the rise of Google and
Facebook has been to get bigger. Levy discussed the benefits of
AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, now WarnerMedia, which
Turner belongs to. Levy said he’s confident the merger will work
because it serves both sides.

“Turner needed data,” he said. “We needed to understand the
consumer much better than we did. Having that understanding of
first-party data would allow us to have better advertising
products, understand consumers better. Being able to download B/R
Live or having the CNN logo on your phone is extremely valuable.
AT&T needed quality premium programming. There was a need for
both, so I think it’s a good marriage.”

To adapt, Turner is developing more of a consumer-oriented
mindset. The concept of “TV Everywhere” in its early form “was a
little clunky. That catapulted Netflix into where it is today,”
Levy said.

Turner has focused on making content available wherever people
want to see it. One recent experiment showed the effort is still
a work in progress, when there were technical snafus that made it
hard for people to watch Bleacher Report’’s Tiger vs. Phil match.

“We had a little technical difficulty there,” Levy acknowledged.

“You made it free, right?” said Ramsey.

“Thank you for reminding me,” winced Levy.

The rise of Amazon, Netflix and other digital streaming companies
funding original content means a plethora of premium content
choices for viewers. Despite that, Levy said the competition is
good, but Turner has plenty of its own premium programming.

“We have great brand with our own IP,” he said. “Every SVOD
product would love to have ‘Rick and Morty.’ We just had 33 Emmy
nominations for our content.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job