TW’s Bewkes: ‘Aereo not a problem’

Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, has dismissed the threat of Internet streaming service Aereo, which plans to launch into further 22 cities beyond its New York launch market area.

Speaking on a Keynote CEO Session on ‘Driving Future Digital Growth’ at the FT Digital Media Conference in London, Bewkes said: “I don’t think they have much of a proposition. Nobody’s going to buy it.” He suggested that this would be the case even if the Barry Diller-backed venture emerged victorious from its legal battle with broadcasters. “If law allows it, which I don’t think they will, they will offer three free-to-air channels. They are free already. All they are doing is charging $8 per month to get them on-demand,” he observed.

Noting the success of Netflix in terms of subscribers, Bewkes said: “It actually went the way we thought. It’s essentially giving you a great library service with a great interface. Netflix is a pretty good company. It is not at all surprising that they have the subscriber count they have,” he admitted, suggesting that they would keep acquiring subscribers, perhaps up to 40 million, “but it will take them a while.” He pointed out that HBO was at 110 million subscribers worldwide.

Suggesting that television was in the middle of a Golden Age, Bewkes said that TV content was increasingly moving across new platforms. “There is no distinction between television and digital media. All TV you are watching is digital media,” he asserted, adding that increased engagement with TV content had been made possible by making it available on demand. “It makes it more valuable,” he noted, suggesting that subscriptions were providing support for the production of content

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