Time Warner CEO Touts "Record" Year "Led by Theatrical" Franchises

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Jeffrey Bewkes

Jeffrey Bewkes says HBO Now is "doing what we want it to do" with 800,000 subscribers.

Much has been made of the fact that HBO Now has amassed just 800,000 subscribers since launching last April, but the stand-alone streaming service is performing in line with Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes' expectations. 

"It's doing what we want it to do," Bewkes said Tuesday during an interview at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference. "We've been really trying to evolve this in a sensible way." 

He noted that the $15-a-month subscription service will soon be available on PlayStation and Xbox, two platforms that have traditionally performed well for sister service HBO Go, which requires cable authentication. 

When asked whether he thinks HBO Now's price point is in line with what consumers are willing to pay, Bewkes said that the service is "working well at this price in relationship to the packages that most people have" for HBO on cable. "We're not trying to pursue the lower-price strategy that some of the syndication VOD services have," he continued, noting that HBO is not hindered by contractual constraints as a result of its carriage deals with cable companies that would hinder it from lowering price points in the future. 

Although he never specifically called out HBO's deep-pocketed competitor Netflix, Bewkes did reference the often-cited comparisons between the two companies. "Let's just go through the facts," he said, explaining that HBO spends about $2 billion a year on content, including more than $1 billion on original series. "We don't want, and we haven't intended, to take that HBO brand and move it to a bulk syndicated offering, which is what the new SVOD offerings have.... We don't think it's to HBO's advantage to join the other SVOD services that are doing broad reach syndication." 

During his 45-minute talk, Bewkes also addressed Warner Bros. and the "big slate" of franchise films that will be released from the studio this year, including Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

"It's going to be another record year," he said. "This year it's going to be led by theatrical. We've got a big slate of new franchise films coming out, and as we have all seen, big tentpole global franchise films have an increasing share of box office."  

On the television side, he says Warner Bros. will make 450 hours of series TV for Cartoon Network and Boomerang. 

Time Warner in February reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.06 per share and missed revenue forecasts with quarterly revenue of $7.1 billion, down 6 percent year-over-year. The company's shares were trading down more than 1 percent during midday trading Tuesday.

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