For the past couple of weeks, the talk about putting network programming online has centered on cable and plans by Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), among others, to make much of it available only to cable subscribers . But Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes, about to shed the dual role of heading a company that owns a cable operator as well as cable networks, has a different goal in mind: serving all of his multichannel constituents and saving the programming world with “TV Everywhere,” a plan he explained to AdAge.
Bewkes: “If you want to watch your favorite TV network or shows through broadband on any device — PCs or mobile — you can do it as long as you subscribe to any multichannel provider. It’s a natural extension of the existing model.” Multichannel includes cable, satellite and the telcoms, removing one of the main selling points for a Comcast or Cox. Even so, AdAge says Comcast execs don’t see it as mutually exclusive. More after the jump.
Bewkes says the industry-wide effort should be ready for a test this year; TW already has conducted a small trial with HBO. The wider effort would be more complicated effort, requiring the cooperation of numerous distributors and subscriber verification that isn’t based on a computer’s IP address. Bewkes told AdAge he believes the plan will err on the side of convenience and ease when it comes to details like how many viewers can take part from a hospital, how to handle college students and the like. Those who don’t subscribe to multichannel providers, or can’t, eventually could pay a web-only access fee.
This is probably easier to say now that Time Warner Cable’s split from the mother ship is almost here. TWC makes money from broadband through high-speed data subscribers. But TW relies heavily on its cable nets — as AdAge points out, HBO and Turner account for nearly 50 percent of the company’s operating profit. Those cable nets and Warner Bros. rely heavily on licensing fees from multichannel subscribers and that income is under threat if people try to save money by going broadband only.