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New Streaming Services Strain to Retain

Bewkes makes a strong push for TV Everywhere

Jeff Bewkes | Stephem Lovekin/Getty Images for Time Warner

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Jeff Bewkes gave the new media equivalent of FDR’s “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inaugural speech to investors at the Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications Conference last week—and the Time Warner chief had his TV Everywhere allies behind him.

Neil Smit, evp of Comcast (Time Warner’s partner on the TV Everywhere project), emphasized the need for customer retention in a presentation to conference attendees, saying that streaming content is the future. “We’re giving the customers no reason to go anywhere else,” Smit said of the company’s new Xfinity Streamplay service. Comcast made deals with both Disney and the authentication initiative TV Everywhere in order to compete with Netflix, Hulu and other Web-based streaming services.

Bewkes urged the investors to start pressuring everyone from cable operators to Nielsen to accept and incorporate TV Everywhere, which allows users to stream video and TV content only if they can prove that they pay for a cable subscription. “[T]alk to them,” he said. “You have tremendous influence.”

But forget about an ad-free viewing experience. Laura Martin of analyst firm Needham & Company published a report in January that estimated over the next three to five years big content publishers could reap up to $10 billion in additional ad dollars annually from the venture.