Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes has defended the autumn 2011 launch of digital movie technology UltraViolet, led by the Warner Bros. studio, stressing the importance of launching early rather than waiting for further improvements.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications conference in Palm Beach, Bewkes said the reason the studio didn’t wait until the technology had been perfected was that consumers are used to seeing new products improve over time. “They know version 3.0 is going to be better than 1.0,” he claimed.
Warner and other studios are relying on the UltraViolet common file format and digital rights authentication ecosystem to encourage people to keep buying movies, instead of renting or illegally pirating them, in the digital age.
Bewkes noted speculation that consumers didn’t want to own movies in a digital environment. “We don’t think that’s right. One of the biggest problems is that while it’s easy to rent a movie and watch it on your TV, until now it has not been easy to buy a movie digitally, manage a digital collection and watch it on the device of your choosing,” he suggested.
Bewkes urged his audience of media business investors to put pressure on other entertainment companies to support UltraViolet more aggressively. “If we don’t, we run the real risk of habituating consumers to rental, when in fact they may prefer to own and build collections of movies,” he warned.
Bewkes also urged delegates to pressurise other media companies to put more television content online as part of TV Everywhere initiatives. Warner has made available more than 1,000 hours of content from its cable channels, including TNT and TBS, as well as more than 1,600 hours for the similar HBO Go.