Now here's a TV company that really knows how to network. Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) is a leading operator of cable TV networks. Its portfolio includes Turner Network Television (TNT), the TBS Superstation, and cable news service CNN. TBS also operates truTV, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, and Boomerang (an offshoot of the Cartoon Network that airs older animated shows). In addition, the company oversees websites related to its TV properties (such as CNN.com and CartoonNetwork.com). Through an agreement with NASCAR, it also runs stock car racing information portal NASCAR.com. Founded by broadcasting pioneer R.E. "Ted" Turner, TBS is the primary cable TV subsidiary of media titan Time Warner.
In addition to series programming and movies, both of Turner's flagship networks have deals with major sports leagues to augment their ratings. TBS offers a slate of regular season baseball games along with Division Series playoff games under a seven-year, $500 million deal with with Major League Baseball that began in 2008. (The broadcast partnership, signed in 2006, ended the cable network's long and exclusive relationship with the Atlanta Braves.) TNT, meanwhile, broadcasts NASCAR racing and NBA professional basketball. Expanding its sports coverage, Turner joined with broadcaster CBS in 2010 to ink a 14-year college basketball rights pact with the the NCAA. The deal, valued at $10.8 billion, gives the cable programmer and the broadcaster rights to air the March Madness tournament. Turner plans to air games across the channels TBS, TNT, and truTV.
The company's Cartoon Network continues to chase Viacom's Nickelodeon in the kids market during the day.
The company's TV channels have enjoyed significant success in recent years, boasting some of the biggest audiences on cable. TNT has built a loyal audience through a focus on dramatic series and movies, including such syndicated programs as Cold Case, ER, and Law & Order.
The one TBS property that has lagged in ratings, though, has been CNN's flagship news channel. Overtaken by FOX News, the pioneer in 24-hour news coverage has been fighting with MSNBC for table scraps despite numerous attempts at format changes and a revolving door of anchors.