Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes does not expect any deviation from the traditional cable bundle and an emphasis on an a la carte model. He said customers might end up paying more than if they could cherry-pick favorites.
“I don't think that it's desirable for consumers to break the bundle,” he said at an investor event on Tuesday. “I don't think it works economically. I think what would happen is you'd end up having to pay more for less.”
The bundle, he said, allows for the huge assortment of channels. Increasing sports rights and any trickle-down to customer bills is one factor that might make a pay-per-channel structure attractive, but Bewkes still believes the current model will prevail. And he said the value of having so many channels should rise as people increasingly watch on the go.
“The power of it is going to go up,” he said.
In many ways, of course, it is to Time Warner’s benefit to keep the bundle model so it can use its leverage to keep wide distribution for so many networks. A true a la carte model could have viewers preferring either Fox News Channel or MSNBC deciding to go without a less partisan CNN.
Separately, while the NFL Network carrying more Thursday night games might be hurting ratings on some networks, Bewkes said Time Warner has not experienced that at its networks. (TNT airs NBA games on Thursdays that have gone against some of the games.)
Overall, Bewkes said ad revenues should be up for the fourth quarter in the single-digit or high-single-digit range.