Bewkes: We’re Open to OTT

But Time Warner Chief Says Any Deal Needs to be ‘Additive'
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Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes told analysts Wednesday that his company is open to over-the-top video service providers, but stressed that any deal would have to be “additive” rather than “subtractive” to its current distribution relationships.

Bewkes declined to speak directly about 21st Century Fox’s decision to halt its pursuit of the company, but on a conference call to discuss second quarter results, the Time Warner chief was more than open about the company’s strategy going forward and its potential growth prospects.

Bewkes said that he was “interested” in Dish Network’s plan for a streaming service that would be targeted at young millennials, and he added that while he was not opposed to OTT in general, any deal would have to be positive for Time Warner.

“We’re certainly open to opportunities to grow our business,” Bewkes said. “We’re not philosophically opposed to an over the top virtual MVPD model, we just have to believe it will be additive to the whole situation rather than subtractive.”

Later, Bewkes said that while there are some questions around some over the top services, Time Warner is looking closely at the model.

“Take the Dish streaming service, it’s a concept we’re interested in, because of the way it’s designed very much targets incremental subscribers at a price point that would be attractive to younger people particularly. A similar one would be Comcast selling HBO in a lightweight TV package that allows you to target consumers that otherwise would not subscribe to the multichannel TV package. That could be a great entree into the ecosystem for younger viewers who may trade up over time.”

And even HBO Go, the online video offering that some analysts have speculated Fox intended to beef up with content from its other networks, could be expanded in the future.

“What we’re doing is trying to be best in class, to have a platform that could deliver the Turner networks and frankly other networks – they don’t have to be ones that we own,” Bewkes said.

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