LONDON (Reuters) - Media conglomerate Time Warner’s chief executive said television was enjoying a second golden age and rejected the notion that innovation had passed into the hands of technology companies like Google.
Jeff Bewkes said the number of television viewers was growing, paid-television penetration was increasing and advertising and subscription revenues were up. He urged the industry not to undervalue its content when making deals for digital distribution.
“We’ve been attracting some company lately — companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Sony, the list goes on and on,” Bewkes said in a speech to Britain’s Royal Television Society in London on Tuesday.
Time Warner raised its full-year outlook last month after quarterly revenue grew at the fastest pace in two years, thanks to a surge in advertising sales at its cable networks and strong turnouts for movies like “Clash of the Titans.”
Bewkes cautioned against making deals such as Apple and Amazon have made with others such as News Corp’s Fox TV to offer downloads of hit series like Glee for $0.99 an episode.
Time Warner’s HBO network has produced television series that have been sold around the world including The Sopranos and Sex and the City. The group also includes the Warner Bros movie studio and the CNN cable network.
“How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?” he asked.
“These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programing in the first place,” he said.
In a bid to prevent Internet companies from seizing control of content distribution, Time Warner is gathering partners including Verizon and Comcast to offer its content on any platform at no extra cost to subscribers.
The venture, called TV Everywhere, offers programs on demand on any device to those who already pay for the service in their home.
The service is currently in about 20 million homes, and Bewkes said he expected to have 70 million U.S. households by this time next year.
“Every single cable, satellite and telephony company is signed up to deliver this,” he said.
Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Elaine Hardcastle