Time Warner CEO Wants to "Age Down" CNN

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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes

Digital news, not television, is the "default" for consumers nowadays.

News on the Internet is the "default thing that everybody is dependent on," Jeff Bewkes acknowledged on Tuesday while discussing his company's CNN asset.

"You want immediate access to news and you expect it," the Time Warner CEO said. "If you're looking at television, everybody knows we are the place to go. If you see what happens at CNN, whenever there is world-breaking news we beat everybody."

He lamented, though, that viewers of TV news are too old, hence CNN's focus on a robust mobile product and more original programming on TV.

Just prior to Bewkes' remarks, in fact, CNN announced two new showsUnited Shades of America, where comedian W. Kamau Bell will travel the country in search of diversity; and Believer, which explores various faiths. CNN also has in the works Race for the White House with Kevin Spacey and more original documentaries.

These network originals, Bewkes said during a presentation at the Deutsche Bank 2015 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference in Florida, are "helping us age down the network. It's bringing in a new habit for younger people of watching CNN."

Beyond CNN, Bewkes reiterated a plan to "invest a lot in content" at Turner, HBO and Warner Bros. He said all three will "push the pedal down" when it comes to content creation, and older franchises won't be ignored. There's more that the Cartoon Network and Boomerang can do with Looney Tunes, for example.

And, of course, digital advances represent as much opportunity as peril. "We worry about change, and we salivate over it," he said.

HBO, also a Time Warner asset, announced Monday it has teamed with Apple for an April launch of its over-the-top digital service called HBO Now for $14.99 a month.

"They're so good," Bewkes said of Apple. "They're so energetic at marketing."

He said that among his target audience for HBO Now are 70 million basic-cable-only homes in the U.S. "Those should be HBO homes," he said.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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