In detailing what helped Time (NYSE: TWX) Warner’s return to profitability, CEO Jeff Bewkes started the Q4 call insisting that the company has completed many of the goals it laid out last year, including cost reductions and the spinoff of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and AOL (NYSE: AOL). In 2010, the company’s big plans rest on international expansion, adding more new programming for its cable networks Turner and HBO, and getting more out of technology, whether its the TV Everywhere system or new devices like Apple’s iPad, though Bewkes didn’t mention that product by name.
He also alluded to the introduction of Apple’s iPad, saying Time Warner is committed to develop new business models related to new technologies. Looking to cable TV, Bewkes promised to invest in new original cable programming at Turner, which will grow ad revenue even if ratings trends don’t turn around.
Despite weaker ratings than News Corp.’s Fox News, Bewkes said CNN’s profits were up by double digits. Ratings has not been a problem for HBO, which managed to grow its subscriber base in the face of the recession. Both Turner and HBO will expand internationally. More importantly, both Turner and HBO will dive further into the on-demand TV Everywhere initiative, a project that is particularly dear to Bewkes’ heart.
On the film studio side, Warner Bros. will to shift more home video to digital viewing, which is lower cost.
Bewkes then turned to the promise of e-readers and Time Inc.’s content, especially from an ad standpoint. He alluded to the magazine consortium led by former Time Inc. EVP John Squires, but again, Bewkes offered no new details.
Apart from e-readers and tablets, games will take on greater importance this year as well, as gaming now generates more than $500 million in revenue, said CFO John Martin.
Asked how making HBO’s programming on broadband, and the investment that entails, will translate to Time Warner’s overall growth, Bewkes said it will add pricing power because of increased customer engagement. In turn, greater engagement from subs will make it more valuable to cable operators.