Time Warner CFO: Movies still key for HBO

Martin says more than half net's viewing is Hollywood films

NEW YORK -- Premium cable networks were among the topics in the spotlight at an entertainment investor conference Tuesday.

Time Warner CFO John Martin said that while original content is important, movies remain a key part of HBO's offerings.

"More than half of viewing is Hollywood movies," he told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco in a session that was webcast.

And the network's weekly Saturday night movie premiere saw viewership rise 40% last year, he added.

Later, Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei said new Starz boss Chris Albrecht is working on strengthening the network's brand with original programming.

Albrecht also had a meeting Tuesday with Time Warner Cable as the premium network would like to improve its relationship with the cable giant, which traditionally hasn't been as strong a performer in premium as others, Maffei added. He said he is hoping for upside if the two sides can include smart incentives to market together into a new carriage partnership.

Asked about a new carriage deal with biggest U.S. cable operator Comcast, Maffei said a deal is still in the works.

Meanwhile, TW's Martin highlighted that after various asset disposals, his firm is now "a TV company" given that the Turner networks and HBO drive most growth.

He emphasized that TW continues to avoid giving its content -- whether TV, movie or magazine content -- away for free online.

"We still don't think it's a good idea," he said about online video site Hulu, co-owned by Walt Disney, NBC Universal and News Corp.