“There’s been more talk than action,” Jeff Bewkes told analysts this morning when asked about plans by Sony and Verizon — and possibly others — to offer an Internet service with traditional cable channels. Time Warner is “not philosophically opposed” to them. “We just haven’t seen anyone come up with a viable, powerful consumer offering yet.” Sony and Verizon might find it hard to change his mind. The Time Warner chief says he doesn’t want to “make a little money there” if he believes it will “cannibalize something else.” That condition’s important: Programmers fear that many subscribers might cut the cord with traditional pay TV services if offered an opportunity to pay less for fewer channels. For example, people who don’t watch sports would be ripe targets for an online offering that didn’t require them to subsidize ESPN and costly regional sports networks. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who doesn’t have a big investment in sports, is much more enthusiastic than Bewkes is in Internet pay TV. “Based on a variety of discussions that we’re having, I do believe that there’ll be at least one [service] commencing operations in 2014,” he said last week. That’s “a good opportunity for us to enter into a new relationships with emerging distributors to add to our stable of the existing ones.”
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