Valerie Meraz once considered a career in journalism before pivoting to a professional life in film and television. Today, she is the Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition & Strategy for Turner Broadcasting System, where she leads a team that’s responsible for acquiring a large percentage of the content seen across the massive cable giant’s diverse lineup of media brands that include TNT, TBS, TCM, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and truTV among others. A key player in the cable industry, Meraz has worked as an executive at 20th Century Fox, Disney and Showtime Networks Inc., where she gained valuable experience that perfectly suits her present job. Since joining Turner, Meraz has helped establish new programming benchmarks at the company through her acquisition of exciting programming that has firmly positioned the brand as a leader in the increasingly competitive multi-media landscape.
EBONY.com recently spoke with the busy exec to learn more about her career and her take on the current trends in television.
EBONY: Tell us about your job.
Valerie Meraz: My position affords me the opportunity to architect, negotiate, and oversee a large volume of complex content deals for linear and non-linear platforms. More specifically, my team is expected to track and secure top tier series and films to possibly play across our multiple Turner television networks, in addition to our new SVOD service FilmStruck.
EBONY: What do you look for when evaluating entertainment content for possible acquisition by Turner?
Meraz: In acquisitions, unlike original programming, we are acquiring content which has previously been shown on other platforms. Acquired programming is not generally promoted heavily so we seek out content which has had some notoriety before it airs on our networks, this means films which have performed extremely well at the box office and off-network series with high ratings and several successful completed seasons. For Turner Classic Movies and FilmStruck, we acquire more specialized, art house and critically acclaimed films, even if the titles might be more obscure or unknown. These brands allow viewers to enjoy films which have more niche audiences.
EBONY: What’s the strongest asset that you bring to your job?
Meraz: In addition to a positive, solution-oriented attitude, I’m extremely reliable and committed to performing to the best of my ability while supporting my staff and also allowing them to grow. I’m always available to my boss in a way that provides him the support he needs to achieve our department goals.
EBONY: How is technology influencing the type of entertainment content audiences see on Turner?
Meraz: The advances in technology developed by our partners such as Comcast or DirecTV, will continue to make finding your favorite shows and accessing them where you are a lot easier. Our TBS and TNT apps will provide an increasing amount of content to consumers in a more polished and user friendly fashion. In some cases, updates to how we offer advertising during breaks will become more interesting and less intrusive to viewers.
EBONY: Tell us about Film Struck and any new platforms and initiatives that Turner plans to unveil?
Meraz: FilmStruck offers instant streaming access to critically acclaimed films, hard-to-find gems, and cult favorites from the world’s greatest independent film libraries. The service is the exclusive streaming home to the Criterion Collection. Film fans can now stream on Apple TV 4th generation devices as well as Amazon Fire TV, web, iOS and Android devices. FilmStruck can be accessed in the Apple App store, as well as online at www.FilmStruck.com and via Google Play for Android users. I can’t speak about plans yet to be unveiled, but as recently reported online via Fortune, Turner Broadcasting System will create more video content for mobile app Snapchat and collaborate with the social media company on advertising, as we expand a partnership to broaden our reach among millennials. Adult Swim and TBS will create original series exclusively for a division of Snap. We also renewed our agreement for Snapchat to create Live Stories, collections of user-submitted photos and videos centered around a specific event, with sports shows from Turner.
EBONY: How do you create balance between your professional and personal lives?
Meraz: In my case, having a Superman of a husband has allowed me to keep up with the demands of this industry while he cares for our children after his own demanding day job. We communicate well and often about how to keep our lives on track and provide the best possible life for our family. In my view, working in the entertainment industry is a lifestyle choice that requires working long hours and staying connected wherever you are. Working while on vacation is not rare, but with fantastic co-workers, I’ve been able to still move about the globe keeping work on track while enjoying time with my family.