Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is always a good interview when you're talking about television, and today at the UBS conference at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan, he had plenty to say.
"It is true, to criticize ourselves, that we have not programmed it to keep it interesting if you wanted to stay for hours," Bewkes said of CNN, which he praised for getting high ratings during breaking news but admitted had fallen off during slower times. "We need to do a better job of producing the full 24 hours. It doesn't all have to be politics, although that is a part of it. We're going to be a little bit more vigorous and broad." Time Warner has put a new executive in charge of CNN Worldwide—Jeff Zucker, former head of NBCUniversal and longtime producer of NBC's megabucks-generating morning show Today.
Bewkes also spoke directly to investors about the company's conservative streaming license agreements (no Turner programming is on Netflix or Hulu at the moment). "In the last few years, the first impression we got was that our investors didn't want us to sell [subscription video on demand] rights. Then they thought we hadn't sold enough of them. Then they thought we wouldn't be able to sell them at all," he told bankers, hedge fund managers and private investors. "So you've got to make up your minds."
Bewkes has had plenty to say on subscription VOD in the past—he got a particularly good shot in last week when he was asked about content investment at digital-only businesses ("There's a lot of talk about companies committing $100 million here and there," he said. "To put it in perspective, we're doing $5 billion in production on our networks and TV business.")—and this time was no different.
He also said he figured TV Everywhere was a no-brainer for other networks. "Like in The Godfather, I'm not aware of any network that has said they weren't going to do it," he said. "It's an offer they can't refuse."
He also gave the audience a little color on the company's ad prospects, predicting ad revenue for Q4 of this year would rise to "single to high single digits."