Living Linear: How WarnerMedia’s Brett Weitz Is Adapting to a Streaming World

Brett Weitz is an industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience. The general manager of WarnerMedia linear networks TBS, TNT, and truTV has had to adapt to a lot in recent years, from the launch of the WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max to the exit of his longtime boss Kevin Reilly.

So how is Weitz finding his groove in the new WarnerMedia?

“I love Kevin and was incredibly was bummed to see him go,” Weitz says in an interview with Variety. “He gave me a lot of opportunity to grow within the company. The great news for me now is I report directly to Ann Sarnoff, who’s an incredible leader.”

“I re-upped my deal for three more years,” he continued. “I’ve been in the company for quite some time, so to really start to place a flag of stability inside of the organization and be able to look to the future and say, ‘Here’s where we are heading. Here are marching orders.’ So really the layers have collapsed above me into a reporting structure that is incredibly beneficial and makes decision making that much more simple and easy. I’m really fired up about it.”

Weitz says that he and his colleagues have truly honed in on the brand identities of the three networks under his purview, but that doesn’t mean there is not room for innovation and change.

“At TBS, we are really passionate about increasing our unscripted footprint,” he says. “And by increasing I mean we went from a company that kind of dipped our toes into it for many, many years, but never really went full throttle into it as a programming strategy. We thought it was a necessity, but not a true future part of our strategy.”

Most recently, TBS launched the competition series “Go-Big Show,” which debuted to over 1 million viewers on Jan. 7, making it the network’s biggest unscripted launch in three years. They are also setting up to premiere a revamped version of “Wipeout” with John Cena and Nicole Byer hosting as well as the American version of the British game show “The Cube” with Dwyane Wade hosting.

On the scripted side, the network will launch the Nasim Pedrad comedy “Chad” around the NCAA Final Four, while the shows “The Last OG” and “Miracle Workers” have both been renewed for new seasons. With late-night, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” recently debuted its sixth season, while “Conan” is set to end its run on TBS in June of this year. Weitz says he would certainly consider another late-night show on TBS, but with a caveat.

“I’m always open to more late-night voices,” he says. “I think that’s a really relevant space where you can curate great comedic content. I personally would like to stay away from politics. If there is another iteration of that, what that would look like. I think it’s just about entertaining people right now.”

With truTV, the “Impractical Jokers” team continues to drive strong numbers, while the network also has the scripted comedy “Tacoma FD” from Broken Lizzard members Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan.

“The Impractical Jokers have an incredibly deep footprint on truTV,” Weitz says. “That show never ceases to amaze me. Those four guys somehow continue to outperform and deliver each and every year for us. Then we’ve got “Fast Foodies,” which is going to premiere on Feb. 4, which is a really fun show that plays in the sweet spot of late night and food. So we’re going to continue to play in that space while also keeping our foot in scripted. ‘”Tacoma FD” has done unbelievable for us. They were so loved that we decided to create ‘Talkoma FD,’ which became a really great offering for us last year, and gave everybody an opportunity to get a better sense of the guys.”

Turning to TNT, Wetiz says that network is meant to be the “thrill ride” for viewers as opposed to the more comedic offerings of TBS and truTV.

“We have incredible movies, we have incredible sports offering in the NBA, and original programming that I believe is second to none,” he says. “’Snowpiercer’ over delivered for us this year. We’re very proud of that, as it premiered and ended the year the number one new drama on cable. And we obviously have ‘Animal Kingdom’ and ‘Claws.’ Those shows continue to surprise and delight audiences. And now with AEW, Tony [Khan] and company have continued to build a bench and create great stories. They’re not just settling for what could be just traditional wrestling.”

Weitz also revealed that “Snowpiercer” has been renewed for a third season at TNT. It was recently announced that “Animal Kingdom” will end with its sixth season, while “Claws” is set to end after its fourth. Furthermore, there are multiple new projects going to pilot at the networks as well as new development. 

So with all of that, where does Weitz see these three linear networks fitting into the WarnerMedia ecosystem, which has been geared largely toward streaming for the future?

“You know, there are those that watch linearly, and there are those that are watching on streaming,” he says. “The truth is, we still hit 130 million people a month across our networks. And that’s not chump change. So we feel that we still offer an incredible reach and huge relevance for the greater WarnerMedia business, while also delivering IP and content that has downstream relevance to HBO Max.”

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