Bewkes: ‘HBO could go OTT’

bewkesThe Time Warner CEO says he’d consider a broadband-only package from a cable company because it would protect the HBO relationship with its biggest source of subscribers.

“Distributors are competing more,” Jeff Bewkes told a Goldman Sachs event in New York. A cable-provided broadband arrangement with HBO “will make it an offer you can’t refuse. … We see growth there for HBO in that.”

Bewkes still rejects the idea of offering HBO on broadband to people who don’t also deal with a pay TV provider. “As many as 10 million homes receive Internet service without cable or satellite. If you take out old people, it’s probably 5m or 6 million. But people in about 70 million homes subscribe to pay TV but not HBO. We’re working more on that.”

Bewkes doubts that they’ll face serious competition from companies such as Intel and Sony that are exploring the possibility of offering a programming package via broadband. Time Warner is “open to it”. But if these businesses took off, “you have a question about the quality of the broadband plant, [their] viability, and advertising measurement.” He’d also expect cable companies to respond by making heavy broadband users pay higher rates, instead of charging single monthly price for nearly unlimited downloads. Bewkes remains enthusiastic about additional streaming for TV Everywhere, which offers programming online to pay TV subscribers. Unlike many content providers he doesn’t want distributors to pay an additional fee just for the digital rights. That could slow down the rollout of the system that he says is essential for pay TV’s future. “It’s the only way to make a revolution in consumer usage.”

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