Jeff Bewkes: Cord Cutting ‘More of a Notion Than a Reality’

The kids are all right, Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes assured investors and analysts at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference on Thursday.

Sure, mobile devices and digital video are challenging the cable industry, but today’s Hulu users will be tomorrow’s HBO subscribers.

“Once they take the mattress and get it off the floor, that’s when they subscribe to TV,” Bewkes said, arguing that older generations with families and more expendable income have always formed the backbone of the cable industry.

Bewkes and other media leaders have often scoffed at cord cutting, the notion that younger audiences are defecting from cable for digital video and other, cheaper forms of entertainment. Their dismissal of this buzzy concept may be rooted in data, but it’s also a necessary exercise in poker face maintenance. As Time Warner derives 90% of its revenue from television, any threat to this lucrative revenue stream carries an existential tinge to it.

When pressed by moderator Todd Juenger, Bewkes downplayed any concerns about a mass exodus from paid television to the online world, insisting there’s no evidence such a migration is taking place.

“We’re never complacent,” Bewkes said, when asked if he was worried. “We’re alert, I’d use that … I think you’re right to call it more of a notion than a reality.”

The key to navigating media’s changing tides will be a mixture of content and delivery, he said. On the distribution front, Bewkes waved the “TV everywhere” banner, stressing that services like HBO Go have already demonstrated the value in providing customers with access to the programming they love when and where they want it.

And while TNT and TBS may be cash-generating machines, the Time Warner chief said the company was experimenting with ways to make its programming more attractive to younger audiences weaned on “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad.” That may require shaking up TNT’s procedural-heavy diet of programs such as “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Major Crimes” with shows that unfold in a serialized and linear fashion.

Bewkes promised that TNT will aim to be “a little younger and more distinctive” instead of continuing to be geared at audiences that are big, broad and older.

More Biz

  • Discovery Corporate New Logo

    Discovery Faces Backlash From Unscripted Producers After Shift in Series Payment Process

    Discovery Inc. is facing a backlash from the unscripted production community following a shift in the cable giant’s protocol for paying for programming. During the past year, Discovery has implemented a new system that calls for the company to pay producers for shows after all episodes and related material for a given season have been [...]

  • Wendy Goldstein Named Republic Records President,

    Republic Records Names Wendy Goldstein President of West Coast Creative

    Republic Records advances Wendy Goldstein to President of West Coast Creative, label co-founders and chief executives Monte and Avery Lipman announced today. Goldstein has overseen the company’s Santa Monica office since 2017 as EVP of Republic Records. Over the past year, she headed up the label’s efforts for Ariana Grande’s  back-to-back No. 1 debuts for the singer’s “Sweetener” and “Thank U, Next” albums, and [...]

  • The Traitor

    MMC Studios, One of Germany's Biggest Production Facilities, Changes Hands

    Germany’s MMC Studios, which has hosted such recent international productions as Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller “7500” and Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition film “The Traitor,” is changing hands. Frankfurt-based investment company Novum Capital has acquired the facility in Cologne, one of Germany’s biggest film and TV studios, from Luxembourg private equity fund Lenbach Equity Opportunities I. The [...]

  • Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal

    Hayley Kiyoko Signs Global Publishing Deal With Kobalt

    Singer-songwriter-actor Hayley Kiyoko, seen most recently in a cameo in Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video, has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Kobalt, the company announced today. The partnership includes publishing administration, creative services and synch for all of her catalogue and future works. Jamie Kinelski, VP, Creative, Kobalt said, “Hayley [...]

  • billy porter gay pride todd snyder

    How Hollywood Is Celebrating Pride Month

    Pride Month officially wraps up this weekend with the WorldPride Parade in New York. It takes on special significance this year, as attendees mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. A number of artists and brands are also getting involved, launching “Pride-themed” collaborations and merchandise in an effort to boost their own visibility within [...]

  • Shawn Strickland, Tony DiSanto - Allyance

    Tony DiSanto's Allyance Media Taps Verizon Veteran Shawn Strickland as President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shawn Strickland, a veteran of Verizon and Complex Media, has joined Tony DiSanto’s Allyance Media Group as president. In the role, Strickland is heading up business operations and spearheading partnerships for the multiformat media and production company. DiSanto and financier Matthew Bruderman formed Allyance Media Group last year. The New York-based company encompasses DIGA Studios, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content