Turner spurs growth at Time Warner

Original shows help boost ad revenue at cabler

Turner Broadcasting continued to be a major driver of growth for Time Warner, with the conglom reporting Wednesday that ad revenues grew 14% at the unit on the strength of original shows.

Turner’s slate also “helped to generate pricing gains at the high end of the recent 2010/2011 upfront,” said Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner. “Memphis Beat,” starring Jason Lee, ranked as cable’s highest-rated show in the second quarter with an average of 5.3 million viewers.

Overall, Time Warner’s revenues grew 8% in the second quarter to $6.4 billion versus the year-ago period. Operating profits were up 19% to $1.2 billion.

Advertising revenues for the entire company rose 11%, and even its publishing business, Time Inc., which has suffered in the downturn, saw its ad revenues grow by 4%.

At Warner Bros., revenues were up 8% to $2.5 billion, helped by “Clash of the Titans” and higher licensing fees for Warner-produced TV shows such as “The Closer.” Video game revenues, too, helped the top line, largely on the release of “LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.”

Bewkes said HBO received higher subscription rates in the U.S. and its revenues got a lift from DVD sales of “The Pacific” and “True Blood.” HBO, Bewkes added, has more original shows in development than at any time in its history.

Time Warner also returned to its investors $1.5 billion through the end of June, either through dividends, or share repurchasing. The earnings were announced prior to the market opening in the U.S.

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