Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes Downplays Cord-Cutting Fears

“We haven’t seen any tipping point,” CEO tells UBS Global Media and Communications Conference

Last Updated: December 8, 2015 @ 11:59 AM

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes isn’t giving up on the traditional cable-television bundle just yet.

“We haven’t seen any tipping point” in cord-cutting by consumers, Bewkes said Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. “There’s been a longstanding adoption, habit and loyalty to this set of channels, and they’re getting better.”

Bewkes’ comments come amid increased concern from media executives over declines in cable-television subscribers. Last month, the Walt Disney Co. reported in a regulatory filing sever subscriber losses for its cable channels, including ESPN.

Bewkes — whose cable brands include HBO and Turner — expressed confidence in video-on-demand as viewers move toward time-shifted viewing. “That results in, we think, tremendous advantages, for the companies that are in the right businesses,” he said.

He also expressed displeasure at the slow development of TV Everywhere services that allow cable subscribers to watch network content on their mobile devices, saying that development and adoption need to proceed at a faster pace.

“We all want to be able to watch and select programming across the range, pull it up on demand, use it on any device,” Bewkes said. “We shouldn’t have to have advanced degrees in order to operate the network or the device.”

Bewkes also talked up Warner Bros.’ film slate, which includes upcoming genre pictures “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The company’s upcoming “Wonder Woman” movie, he added, could broaden the audience for superhero films.

“We think this could bring an under-represented female audience to this genre that frankly has not been served well in the past and that could be exciting,” he said.

Bewkes also indicated that with CBS’ deal with the NFL for “Thursday Night Football” set to expire at the end of this season, Time Warner — whose Turner networks carry MLB and NBA games, would kick the tires on football but may not be game for a high-stakes bidding war.

“We’re interested in the NFL,” he said. “But we don’t have to have it.”


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