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Interview: Jeff Bewkes, Chairman And CEO, Time Warner, Part Two: TV Everywhere, Technology Not

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
ContentNext Media Co-Editor Staci D. Kramer spoke with Bewkes on the eve of the show about TV Everywhere, the spinoff of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable and more. This is the second of two parts of edited excerpts from their conversation. Part One is here.

Would you like to see the broadcast networks make their programming available in real-time, no matter if they put it up a day later somewhere else?

I'm not going to speak for them because they know their business and what their tradeoffs are. So far, if you take this talk we're having together, the difference with broadcast today is they're putting their programming increasingly online without regard to whether anybody is subscribing to multichannel video and I think all the multichannel branded video networks are not doing it.

Who supports the technological cost of making this all happen?

Some of it is the network in question organizing pitching and catching what you're pitching out to the servers, depending on who's hosting the stuff, and some of it is the exhibition platform could be the Hulus, the Yahoos, the AOLsit's not that significant of a cost.

Who puts it together? Who makes sure if I go to AOL and I want to watch a program, or if I go to Fancast and want to watch a program, that it's ok for me to watch it?

What we're talking about a given network does an affiliation agreement with all kinds of broadband providers like and this is all hypothetical with the usual suspect broadband providers so *Verizon*, *AT&T*, Cox, *Comcast*. *Time Warner Cable*, *DirecTV*, *Yahoo* however you get your broadband and you could say if you have access to wherever consumers want to go the TNT or MTV websites through you and watch the shows, or you want to have them on your servers and they watch them, you can have the affiliate rights to do that and you don't have to collect any money or pay us any money, they just have to be authenticated as a multichannel video subscriber. The way that would work you're talking about the history up to now all of the video providers would have a link in their software where they could be pinged to see if the person is a video subscriber. That's not a complicated thing. It's simply a software program that asks does anybody have Staci as a sub and then *Charter* says, yes, I've got her and bang. And that's whether I'm in a hotel room in Washington or my own living room? It doesn't matter because you're going through a broadband site to watch CNN or TBS and they're basically saying fine. Remember the background on this. Everybody's already paying for video. This is not likely to be an obstacle for virtually anybody.

How do you make this happen as an initiative? Are you going to try to broker deals? Sign people on? Are you going to say, Philippe, why don't you do this? Bob, why don't you? Have you already done that?

I'm going to actually write the software (laughing). You can see what we're doing. We're explaining the logic of it and we're going to do it. So we've already done it with HBO. Let's stop for a second and look at HBO. If you look at HBO and you say should the HBO subscribers be able to watch HBO programming on laptops or PCs over broadband and you ask the HBO management, which I still consider myself part of, yes, why not?  But then you say if you put HBO on broadband let's say the sitewould you put it on somebody else's site like AOL Video? Yeah, provided the people watching it were HBO subscribers. Would you put it anywhere someone could watch who wasn't an HBO subscriber? No, nobecause that's how HBO supports its programming. It's obvious in the case of premium TV it doesn't have advertising. I would say to yo, it's almost equally obvious in the case of branded multichannel networks like Fox News, MTV, etc., because a good piece, roughly half of their programming, is supported by carriage fees that come out of the multi-channel subscription so they shouldn't be taking that program support and eliminating it simply because they're trying to make their program available to you on other devices besides your television. There's no reason you need to change the economic model to do that. What that allows you to do and this really should be viewed as pro-consumer is to make this available in different ways on the consumer's timetable for nothing.

Do you have anyone else who's willing this week at the cable show or anytime very soon to say I'm going to join up with Jeff in doing this?

Well, let's not take away the suspense. We're going to be there in a day or two, let's do it there.

How do you take this from your idea and try it on one system with one network and make this bigger, faster?

You build the software capability to do the authentication and you start making affiliate agreements between networks and broadband providers. We're going to take those and organize some agreements with broadband providers to do this provided the ability to authenticate is there. That's going to take a little time. I'm basically saying to other networks you should do the same.

Does the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) split make a difference for TV Everywhere?

It doesn't really matter, I don't think. The TV Everywhere structure is good for all cable, satellite and telephone distributors. It's good for all networks. It's good for studios that sell to networks so it's basically good for everybody on the business side. For consumers, it's good because instead of getting the slow-dribble broadcast-network programming on a windowed basis into relatively under-watched sites. It would be able to put all of the networks much more easy for Americans to figure out how to use on VOD in the their homes on TV and VOD on broadband much faster. They'd be able to get them on sites that are much easier for them to use and find, like, yes they could be on Hulu, YouTube, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and AOL, but they could also be on CNN, TNT, NBC and so forth. There would be more of it. It would be more uniform. It would help the consumers a lot and, as we said, in the overwhelming majority of cases there is no extra charge. 

By Staci D. Kramer

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