Time Warner's perspective has been that the current fourth quarter hit a few potholes when it came to TV advertising for its networks. But the first quarter looks to be a
Jeff Bewkes, chairman/CEO of Time Warner, in speaking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference on Tuesday, said: "In the upfront, we had the top of percentage [price] increase for all cable networks." The fourth-quarter scatter market also started strong, he said -- up double-digit percentages on the price per thousand viewers it charges advertisers versus upfront pricing set in June.
But then things changed.
"In the fourth quarter, things were a little softer," he said. "Some of that was due to advertisers pulling stuff forward
in the upfront. [But] the first quarter looks pretty good." He also attributes this to worries about the global economy, which may have given some TV marketers pause.
Going forward, Bewkes is more optimistic. By way of example, he says, retailers have seen good sales for Black Friday and its companion Cyber Monday. Overall, with the resolving of the NBA season (games which run on TNT), "we feel better about the first quarter than we felt about the fourth."
In regard to Time Warner's effort for TV Everywhere -- where it will give current subscribers all its channels, including TNT, TBS, HBO and CNN and access to programming on any digital entertainment device -- Bewkes says efforts are growing rapidly.
For example, Turner Broadcasting networks now have passed through 70 million homes for TV Everywhere. By the end of the year, Bewkes says Turner networks will penetrate 80% of its TV homes.
Bewkes doesn't see any signs of U.S. consumers looking to cut back on their subscription TV options. "What you don't have is cord-cutting of a kind that people are worried about. It's a fairly small percentage. Ninety-two percent of TV homes have a multichannel package."
Those homes that don't have any cable, satellite, or telco subscription -- for the most part, he says -- don't have computers or broadband connections. That would mean, according to some analysts, that those unconnected homes are not using 'alternative' or so called 'over-the-top' TV services.
Bewkes believes services like Netflix and Hulu Plus -- "subscription VOD" services, he calls them -- will continue to work well for TV content creators. "Netflix is our friend. .. These kinds of services can definitely add value." But he doubts that services like Netflix will become major TV producing competitors, as they are unable to amass a big library of big-budget current TV shows, due to the cost factor.