Jeff Bewkes, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, has suggested that global Internet piracy actually benefits original programming such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, leading to more paying subscribers for pay-TV networks. Studies indicate that Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated TV globally.
Responding to an earnings call question about whether Time Warner considered the illegal accessing of the title as a compliment, Bewkes said: “I have to admit it, I think you’re right,” suggesting that “if you go to people who are watching it without subs, it’s a tremendous word-of-mouth thing”.
“We’ve been dealing with this for 20, 30 years, people sharing subs, running wires down the backs of apartment buildings. Our experience is that it leads to more paying subs. I think you’re right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. That’s better than an Emmy.”
Bewkes comments came as Time Warner reported “solid” second quarter with a strong showing in the network unit, backed by demand for the NBA play-offs and HBOs original programming. Adjusted operating income jumped 25 per cent to $1.5 billion. Revenue also showed solid gains, coming in up 10 per cent to $7.4 billion, also beating estimates of $7.12 billion.
“HBO continues to benefit from the strongest programming line-up in its history, including Game of Thrones, which finished its third season up more than 20 per cent in viewers, and the made-for-HBO film Behind the Candelabra – the most watched HBO film in a decade,” noted Bewkes in the company’s earnings release. “Underscoring that strength, HBO recently received 108 Primetime Emmy nominations, the most of any network for the thirteenth year in a row and more than double the closest competitor. At Warner Bros., we had a fantastic quarter, including one of its most successful upfront seasons ever, with orders for 31 new and returning shows from the broadcast networks. And we had a strong theatrical quarter with our blockbuster reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, and The Great Gatsby. Reflecting our confidence in our outlook and our commitment to stockholder returns, so far this year we’ve repurchased $1.8 billion of our stock and paid out over $500 million in dividends.”