Bob Greenblatt Interview on TV Business, NBC, Streaming, Mergers – The Hollywood Reporter

Following a protracted profession in a few of tv’s most significant government suites, former WarnerMedia, NBC and Showtime topper Bob Greenblatt is having fun with his subsequent act within the business as he shifts from programming purchaser to vendor by way of the first-look producing deal he signed with Lionsgate again in August.

With a number of tasks arrange throughout city, together with at Disney’s Hulu and his former house at NBCUniversal, Greenblatt is now on the surface wanting in as consumers immediately deal with megamergers (see Warner Bros. Discovery), sprawling content material portfolios amid rising budgets, and the continued shift to streaming that leaves the printed networks he is aware of and loves omitted within the chilly.

Partly two of THR’s interview with Greenblatt, the previous exec opens up concerning the state of the business together with the newest spherical of government modifications, the likelihood that NBC will cede programming the ten p.m. hour and what a “dream job” is in 2022. (Click on right here for half one of many interview, as Greenblatt discusses his transition from purchaser to vendor.)

The business has modified dramatically over the previous two years and Warner Bros. is now owned by Discovery, amongst different megadeals. What do you consider the panorama immediately? 

I feel it’s sophisticated and issues hold altering. As any individual attempting to arrange tasks, the land at all times appears to be transferring below your ft to a point. It’s a really chaotic and tumultuous time. I’m pleased that I’ve so many buddies who’re nonetheless in actually nice locations at these varied platforms.  

The previous month has seen one other spherical of high-level execs on the transfer, with The CW’s Mark Pedowitz, Fox’s Charlie Collier and Paramount’s David Nevins all leaving their respective longtime properties. Will business consolidation and that instability proceed?

It’s tumultuous and chaotic for producers and writers — and it’ll most likely hold going for an additional couple years as many corporations are going by way of seismic transitions. It’s not nice for the enterprise. However on the similar time, I’ve run a few these corporations, and I understand how crucial it’s to get your organization refocused on what the long run is. The way you go about turning media corporations into corporations with streaming platforms which can be extra technologically pushed is troublesome, and it’s taking extra time for some than others. There’s a lot of consolidation occurring and I perceive the necessity for that, too. It’s most likely going to maintain occurring. Anyone will purchase any individual else, and it’ll hold occurring time and again. There are some corporations that appear to be on monitor — the Apples of the world — however simply after I say that, who is aware of what’s across the nook. It’s not simple.

The place do you see broadcast TV going, given station group Nexstar’s takeover of The CW and the way locations like ABC and NBC are overseen as a part of bigger portfolios fairly than having devoted execs?

It’s arduous for me to be crucial of the enterprise and the place it’s going. I had what I assumed was a super and fantastic scenario at NBC after I was there with the dream crew. We have been siloed, and all the pieces wasn’t consolidated as it’s now [with Susan Rovner and Frances Berwick overseeing a content group that includes cable networks, Peacock and NBC]. We had a cable group, a community group and no streamer. So, the community may nonetheless be one of many dominant locations within the firm. However everyone knows that viewership is drifting. Individuals are heading extra to streaming and on-demand than ever earlier than. It’s arduous to maintain youthful individuals watching broadcast as they develop into content material watchers. Younger individuals don’t go first, second and even third to a broadcast community like they did after I was a child. On some degree, that saddens me. The nice, outdated, highly effective networks aren’t what they as soon as have been. You see it within the scores and the way there are fewer reveals being developed and, of these, fewer new reveals are picked up yearly. They’re filling the schedules up with actuality. It’s a distinct enterprise than it was 4 years in the past after I left NBC. However kudos to ABC’s Abbott Elementary; a few of these reveals are nonetheless large drivers for networks, like The Voice and The Masked Singer and issues like that. It’s a distinct enterprise than it was and now there are millions of different reveals on different platforms and completely different sorts of reveals that we couldn’t do on broadcast like restricted sequence and anthologies and codecs that simply didn’t work on a weekly schedule. The printed networks aren’t what they as soon as have been. 

And amid all of the modifications on broadcast, the price of doing scripted continues to climb and NBC is contemplating slicing programming for the ten p.m. hour. What do you consider that chance?

We had that dialog each 18 months after I was at NBC; it was at all times contemplated. On a enterprise degree, that’s most definitely the benefit of doing that: You narrow losses on the community, native stations profit by having information longer, The Tonight Present is on earlier and also you’re extra aggressive. There are many causes to do it. However the causes not to do it’s you’re giving up an hour of nice primetime actual property that you just’ll by no means get again. There’s at all times a remorse issue to doing that. A number of the biggest TV in historical past aired on the 10 p.m. hour, and it was appointment TV — The West Wing, Legislation & Order, Hill Avenue Blues, St. Elsewhere, ER and Lou Grant — as a result of there was nowhere else to go. When Aaron Sorkin was doing his latest “10 p.m. drama,” The Newsroom, he went to HBO as a result of HBO is a superb house for extraordinary tv. We will’t simply lament the truth that broadcast tv is completely different. It’d be actually unhappy if one thing else hadn’t come to take its place, however this entire different window opened with premium cable and streaming. All of it balances out on the finish however the nostalgia in us misses the [conversation], “M*A*S*H is on tonight, can’t wait!” Ninety-six million individuals watched that finale. Simply 10 years in the past, we had 18 million individuals watching The Sound of Music Dwell on a Thursday evening. These numbers are solely reserved for large nationwide sporting occasions now or the occasional actuality present. When The Voice got here alongside, we have been nonetheless getting large numbers. However you may’t get that viewers anymore on broadcast. And we don’t know what streaming numbers actually are.

Showtime, which you used to run earlier than leaving for NBC, was moved to unscripted kingpin Chris McCarthy’s group at Paramount International after David Nevins left. What do you consider Showtime’s future below an unscripted exec? 

It’s unimaginable for me to reply. I don’t know Chris and have by no means met him, however I feel that Viacom [which changed its name to Paramount Global] might be smarter than to intestine Showtime as a result of it could be financially simple to try this. Showtime has executed properly financially over the previous few years. As they merge right into a streaming platform with all the opposite networks at Viacom and it turns into a distinct animal? Possibly these questions get more durable to reply.

What do you consider Peacock? What would you do there?

Once more, not my place to opine on one other platform. They’ve very good and gifted executives operating their enterprise.

Are you able to envision your self returning to the chief suites sooner or later?

I might if I discovered the fitting scenario with individuals I wished to work with. It truly is exhilarating being a purchaser. You get to have a giant say in what goes on the air. If proper job got here alongside … however who is aware of what meaning immediately.

What’s your dream job in 2022?

I’ve had all of them and I don’t know. It’s an unfair query. Once I was at NBC, it was the dream job. Broadcast was essential to the corporate, and I took NBC to No. 1. It was a fantastic job. Would that be dream job now? Most likely not. I had the cable dream job [at Showtime] at some extent when premium cable was on the rise. I used to be at Showtime when HBO was the one different recreation on the town with FX. That was a thrill. I don’t know if that’s a dream job anymore, however I’m most likely positive it wouldn’t be. And it definitely wasn’t working for a corporation run by AT&T, however a that’s an entire different kettle of fish. (Laughs.) Casey Bloys could have the dream job immediately in that he retains the essence of HBO and now will get to increase it into a bigger model. What occurs with Discovery, I don’t know. There are many monetary challenges, however he’s in a fantastic place to place extraordinary TV onto his linear or streaming platform. It’s a greater job than when AT&T was there. 

Interview edited for size and readability.

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