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Bewkes Wants More On Demand

Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes, who recently said the media giant would dial back windows for making its content available to subscription video on demand services like Netflix, told an industry audience Tuesday that distributors and content companies should step up their on demand efforts.

At the UBS Global Media & Communications conference in New York, Bewkes said that his criticism of SVOD isn’t that it hurts ratings for linear shows – in many cases it improves them. But when viewers can only get shows on the SVOD platform and not on the VOD service with their pay TV provider, that becomes a problem.

“It’s a little different to say SVOD hurts ratings if people are over at SVOD platforms watching that way because they can’t get VOD over at the normal place where it premiers,” Bewkes said at the conference. “That ought to be fixed when the network industry puts On Demand as a feature for all of its networks.”

Bewkes said Time Warner has done that with Comcast and other distributors for its Turner channels as well as HBO. He added that viewers and distributors alike should change the way they view On Demand.

“On Demand is like volume control; it’s a feature,” Bewkes said. “If you like volume on your TV, you ought to demand having on demand on your television.”

On programming, with the National Football League’s Thursday Night Football deal with CBS expiring soon, Bewkes said Time Warner’s Turner networks would like to have the NFL, but only at the right price.

He added that Turner already has long term deals with several sports – it has rights for National Basketball Association games out to 2025; the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament out to 2024; and Major League Baseball out to 2021.

“We’ve got a strong sports offering,” Bewkes said. “We’re interested in the NFL, but we don’t have to have it.”