The Washington Post

Time Warner CEO Won’t talk 21st Century Fox merger, but suggests future is brighter alone


Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes on Wednesday tried to avoid any discussion of why the firm rejected 21st Century Fox’s proposed $80 billion acquisition, which would have been the biggest media merger in about a decade if it had gone through.

Still, some talk was inevitable. And during a second-quarter earnings call with analysts, Bewkes made comments indicating that he and the board believe the company is worth more than what was offered by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Bewkes said the television, cable and film businesses have great upside for growth — particularly globally and on the Internet.

Where exactly does Time Warner see the company going? Here are some highlights from the call:

Internet: No, there aren’t any plans to offer HBO Go apart from the cable and satellite bundle. But Time Warner is working on building its own Internet platform — something along the lines of Netflix–that would build upon the success of the HBO Go App. Bewkes suggested that the platform could even be used to deliver content that’s not produced by Time Warner.

“Should offerings be determined for consumers based on what a company owns?” Bewkes said during the call with analysts. “That’s not how consumers arrange their dial.

“We’re anticipating people might want more than that,” he added.

Global: When asked about Time Warner assets and if they were undervalued, Bewkes pointed to strong potential for international expansion. He said Turner, Warner and particularly HBO content is warmly received by international audiences. The company is also offering more experimental Web-only HBO packages for overseas viewers. There isn’t “full appreciation about what we can do there,” he said.

HBO’s international business accounts for about one-quarter of HBO’s total revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal. HBO, the overall unit, showed a strong increase in growth, up 17 percent in the second quarter to $1.4 billion, thanks to the popularly of “Game of Thrones,” which took over “The Sopranos” as the most popular show in HBO history, and a roster of award-winning series.

Kids: Bewkes thinks Cartoon Network could be a global hit. The kids network, part of Turner, has been “under-mined,” Bewkes said. He didn’t provide details, but said the firm has plans to expand offerings internationally.

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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