Bewkes: Universal VOD is The Future

Time Warner Chief Says All Networks Will Follow HBO Model
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Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes told analysts Wednesday that he envisions a future where all network programming, not just his, will be available to everyone at any time on any device on demand. While that sounds a lot like the TV Everywhere concept that Bewkes pioneered about fve years ago, the content chief has a new name for this latest content idea: Universal VOD. 

Bewkes, speaking to analysts as part of a conference call to discuss third quarter results, was extrapolating on comments by his new TBS and TNT president, Kevin Reilly, concerning stacking rights for programming. Turner already has sold stacking rights for full seasons of TBS shows to DirecTV and Comcast. Stacking rights, which would allow customers to view full seasons of shows on demand on any device, would get more consistent and broader in the future, Reilly said.

Bewkes, who was one of the first content CEOs to openly embrace the concept of TV Everywhere, took it a step further, adding that those broader rights wouldn’t necessarily mean higher prices for content.

“What we’re talking about here is taking television and making it VOD universal,” Bewkes said. “Therefore it would not have an effect on the discreet change in the price of a show. When you do that and make the show easier to get attached to and engage with and follow, you have actually a more valuable show in subsequent seasons and on later windows. That’s  basically what is going to happen in the industry. If you focus too much on any particular deal in the transition period, I think you’d be missing where this is going.  The net effect of the whole thing is to have TV networks become more valuable, to have the value of any hit show  become more valuable and to then create an evolution of the window where anything in the current season you know is on demand no matter what networks you’re watching. You can watch one today that works exactly like that. It’s called Home Box Office. Showtime does it too.”

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