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Jeff Bewkes talks bundles, VOD and Netflix

Time Warner topper doesn't see operators moving to more tiers

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes doesn’t seem much chance of cable operators moving to unbundle networks or create more tiers, although he’s not sure about sports as they get ever more pricey.

“The escalation of sports rights, I don’t know what will happen with that. That may be an issue,” Bewkes said at the UBS Media conference in Gotham on Tuesday. “Other than the concentrated viewing and cost of sports, the rest of the bundle is a better value than ever.”

Bewkes is sanguine about ratings for cable and even broadcasters, reiterating comments by CBS chief research officer David Poltrack on Monday that millions of DVR, Web and VOD viewers aren’t being measured.

“Monetization is taking place even if you’re not seeing it in the ratings,” Bewkes said.

Bewkes is always asked about Netflix, and he said the market for content created by the video streaming giant isn’t as “frothy” as it once was, but he gave the streaming service a shout-out by noting that “the advantage always goes to the incumbent.” Verizon and Redbox are pushing the launch of their rival service from December into next year.

Meanwhile, Netflix shares soared on Tuesday as it announced an exclusive pact that gives it the pay TV window for Disney pics.

Responding to a lone question on the movie biz at a conference obsessed with TV, Bewkes said business is decent in the U.S. and strong overseas, but he warned of the trend toward lower-margin rentals vs. buying in the homevideo market. The studios are trying to combat this trend with the cloud-based UltraViolet venture that promotes homevid ownership.

“We’re trying to get high-margin sales through windows and make ownership more (common) and easier. It’s what UltraViolet is about,” he said.

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