While money men work out the future, the former Ted Turner networks have basic plans for now.
The billion-dollar stuff – merging Warner and Discovery channels – is for later. For now, the “TNets” range from the silliness of “Wipeout” and “Go-Big Show” to the dead-serious “Snowpiercer” and “Claws.”
Coming is what Brett Weitz, general manager of TBS, TNT and TruTV, calls “a very packed summer.” That will range from the comic “Miracle Workers” to the crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” and will include a fresh twist to movie night.
TBS’ “Friday Night Vibes” will have Tiffany Haddish (shown here) hosting films and chatting with friends; that starts June 18 with a Juneteenth celebration that includes a “Creed” double-feature. “She’s such a pro …. I can’t wait to see who she gets to hang with her each week,” Weitz told reporters.
These are the networks that Ted Turner created in 1976 (TBS) and 1988 (TNT), with low-budget collections of reruns, movies and sports. Also included is TruTV, which began as Court TV in 1991.
Each reaches about 85 million homes; most retain viewers. In trade-paper Variety’s list of the most-watched networks (broadcast or cable) for 2020, TBS was No. 14 and TNT was No. 18; their declines (8 percent and 12 percent) were milder than most. TruTV was No. 78, down 20 percent.
Some of their success has been built on sports, both real (pro basketball on TNT, with hockey coming) and pretend. “More wrestling is a good thing,” Weitz said.
On Aug. 13, All Elite Wrestling will add a third show – “AEW: Rampage” – to its TNT line-up; the following January, it will move “AEW: Dynamite” to TBS.
Lately, the networks have been in a swirl of big-money deals. Turner sold them to Warner Brothers, which was bought by AT&T. Last year, they were linked in the massive HBO Max streaming service; now comes word of a merger that would put Warner and Discovery channels together by mid-2022.
But that’s future, billion-dollar stuff. For now, TNT has its portion of the pro-basketball tournament; TBS is continuing its chronological rerun of “Friends” episodes (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, through June 4), promoting that show’s reunion special May 27 on HBO Max; such comedy reruns — especially “The Big Bang Theory” – are at its core.
Meanwhile, the “TNets” continue some new shows. Weitz told of:
– Continuing original shows. Renewed for a second season are the scripted “Chad” and unscripted “Wipeout” and “Fast Foodies.” Previously renewed were “Snowpiercer” (third season) and “Animal Kingdom” (fifth and sixth); newer, unscripted series are “Rhodes to the Top,” “Rat in the Kitchen,” “The Big D” and the game show “The Cube.” In addition, “Claws” will have its final season, probably starting late this summer.
– Adding “Friday Night Vibes” on TBS. Haddish will have guests and show movies; many may be comedies (her specialty), but she’ll start with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone in the “Creed” boxing movies. “Vibes” will be produced by Reg Hudlin, who did last year’s Emmy and Image awards..
– And continued shows this summer, when cable tends to make its best inroads. “Animal Kingdom” starts its season July 11 on TNT and the witty “Miracle Workers” starts a season (now set in the Old West) July 13 on TBS. On TruTV, “Impractical Jokers” has an “award show” and a movie on July 1, then starts new episodes a week later, leading into the debut of “Backyard Bar Wars” that night, July 8.