Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told investors Wednesday that the conglomerate is considering delaying the SVOD licensing window for some of its content as it evaluates the best monetization options in a fast-changing TV landscape.
During Time Warner’s third-quarter earnings call, Bewkes said the company was considering sticking to a more traditional syndication-style time frame after the initial premiere for licensing some shows in the SVOD realm. That would be a shift from the deal that Warner Bros. cut last year with Netflix to make episodes of the Fox drama “Gotham” available to Netflix after the end of each season on Fox.
“We’re evaluating whether to retain our rights for a longer period of time and forego or delay certain content licensing,” Bewkes said. “This would effectively push the (SVOD) window to a multiyear period more consistent with traditional syndication.”
Bewkes was cagey about specifics but emphasized that Time Warner is focused on maximizing the monetization of its shows. The biggest monetization support by far is the carriage fee plus the advertising for that supports a big bundle or streamlined bundle,” he said. “If we talk about SVOD, which we know drives a much smaller subscription revenue and limited or no ad revenue, it’s clear that offers less montization support for the quality and diversity of programming that we have gotten used to seeing on the dial.”
Company execs have “been thinking a lot about how to enhance the value of the traditional bundle,” Bewkes said.
When pressed for specifics, Bewkes acknowledged that different windows work better for different kinds of shows — a serialized drama has more urgency than a half-hour comedy. But clearly there is concern at Time Warner about the migration of programming to SVOD undercutting the foundation of traditional MVPDs, which affects Time Warner’s Turner networks as well as the shows that Warner Bros. produces for outside nets.
“We continue to look carefully at the health of our networks and all of Warner Bros. network partners,” Bewkes said. Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara added: “Maintaining the health and integrity of the eco-system is critical to maximizing content” and for the studio’s long-term prospects.