Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes urged Wall Streeters on Tuesday to crack the whip on media companies that drag their feet in the new digital world of TV Everywhere and UltraViolet — services that make television easy to watch and movie libraries easy to manage.
“You shouldn’t need to be knocked upside the head with an iPad,” he said in an impassioned presentation to investors at the Deutsche Bank media conference. “I am telling this to you because you can demand, I think you should absolutely demand, that the companies in which you invest get moving.”
With TV Everywhere, distributors must create a smooth seamless authentication process and ensure authentication across multiple platforms and devices. “Some distributors make it really easy and some don’t. I won’t name names, but you know who they are and so do they. So, talk to them. You have tremendous influence.”
Nielsen needs to accelerate its efforts to measure on more than just a PC, he said, “So you can add that your list of items for your companies that you want to talk about.”
The film side is equally urgent as consumers have moved away from buying physical DVDs to renting from Redbox, Netflix and mail services that are “low value” propositions for studios. The DVD market has plunged by 20% over the past five years. Bewkes believes consumers prefer buying to renting even in a digital environment but don’t have any easy way to manage their films.
The new UltraViolet technology lets consumers who buy a disc also store the title on studio servers, known as the Cloud. They can stream the pics or download them to any device.
All major studios but Disney have endorsed it.
“Until now it has not been easy to buy a movie digitally, to manage your digital collection and to watch it on the device of your choosing, particularly the television. So what you are seeing… has a lot to do with what is easy and available to consumers. And in fact when you give American consumers a real choice between owning or renting digital goods, they choose ownership more often than none. We’ve seen that in music and we’ve seen it in books,” he said.
“So the industry has come to a crossroads. We know consumers want to buy today, but they can’t do it with the ease and functionality that they have come to expect. We need to fix that, and we should fix it quickly. If we don’t, we run the real risk of habituating consumers to rental when in fact they may prefer to own and build collections of movies.”