Warner head touts DVD, homevid
If Steve Jobs wants to make more money on store shelves, he should make WB his new home.That’s Time Warner Entertainment and Networks chairman Jeffrey Bewkes’ case for why his studio would be the best partner for Pixar, the hottest free agent in Hollywood. Speaking at the Bear Stearns media and entertainment conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Bewkes confirmed WB is in talks with Pixar, and said its strength in DVDs and homevideo make it the best choice. “The advantage Warner has is that it has the biggest worldwide DVD and homevideo distribution, and it outindexes every other studio in terms of how many dollars in DVD or homevideo it gets for each dollar in box office,” he said in his keynote presentation. “There’s room for us to deliver more to Pixar than probably anyone else.” The rest of Bewkes’ presentation consisted of a run-through of Time Warner’s assets, with the exec sticking to an optimistic line for nearly all of them.
- He admitted that Fox News, which has pulled ahead of TW’s CNN to a solid first place in cable news, has done “a good job,” particularly in retaining viewers for destination programming. While maintaining that CNN’s earnings will grow as much as the company’s other network sectors, he said the cable net’s focus has to be on “increasing the time spent by viewers by getting better shows.”
- In the film biz, he stated “we’re not even at the halfway mark” on the Harry Potter series and pointed to upcoming superhero franchises such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as ways WB will keep its strength. And while admitting that New Line will face some “fluctuation” with the decline of “Lord of the Rings” revenue, he maintained that it is becoming “a steadier, higher-earning indie.”
- In his least positive note of the night, Bewkes said financials for the AOL unit have “stabilized,” but a big remaining question for the online provider is “where the growth is in the future.” He said the focus at AOL now is in a variety of consumer options, from the low-cost Netscape ISP all the way up to premium anti-spam and content offerings for broadband users, but admitted, “The question for those is how big are they?”