Check Out Our New Look

Time Warner Chief Jeff Bewkes Says He’s Open To Acquisitions, If Cheap: UBS Confab

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes needed a better joke writer to help him acknowledge the anniversary of the blunder he made at last year’s UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference when he wrote off Netflix, comparing it to the Albanian army trying to take over the world. He had to eat those words as Time Warner, along with just about everyone else, began licensing programming to the online streaming service. “This is the appropriate place to point out that the Albanian army did take over the world. Alexander the Great? It’s close.” The line only elicited a few chuckles from analysts, but they didn’t seem to mind after hearing Bewkes say a lot of things they wanted to hear. Time Warner’s ad sales have been ”up double digits (since the upfront market) and are holding.” Although 4Q was a little soft, ”some of that is advertisers pulling stuff forward to the upfront. … We’re looking fine for the first quarter,” especially with the return of NBA games.

He also assured investors that they don’t have to be concerned about Warner Bros’ prospects following the end of the Harry Potter film series. He said that within hours, the Harry Potter presence that has done so much for Universal’s Islands of Adventure park in Orlando “will move in a material way in that direction” — suggesting that the company and Comcast will confirm reports that Universal Studios Hollywood will get a version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. ”Everybody stay tuned.” He also says that the studio has high hopes for additional franchises including the Batman/Dark Knight series. Read More »

Comments (2)

Time Warner Picks Digital Marketing Exec Laura Lang To Run Time Inc

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 9:04am PST

NEW YORK — Time Warner Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes today announced the appointment of Laura Lang as Chief Executive Officer of Time Inc. Ms. Lang will join the company from Digitas Inc. where she served as Chief Executive Officer since 2008. She will become CEO of the largest U.S. publishing company, home to such iconic brands as PEOPLE, TIME, INSTYLE, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, in January 2012.

Read More »

Comments (0)

Time Warner Launches Review Of NYC Office Options

By | Wednesday September 28, 2011 @ 11:15am PDT

Time Warner’s love affair with New York City is about to be put to a test. CEO Jeff Bewkes told staffers in an email that the company’s preparing to evaluate “our office footprint in the New York metropolitan area and develop a long-range plan to meet our future needs.” The team leading that process — to be run by Chief Financial and Administrative Officer John Martin and Global Real Estate SVP Tom Santiago — probably won’t make a decision until the end of 2012. Then it could take years to implement. The corporate ranks and cable channels including CNN probably will stay in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle; the company owns about 1 million square feet in the building. But Time Warner leases an additional 3 million or so additional square feet of office space in the New York area. The agreement for the publishing unit’s operations at the Time & Life building expires at the end of 2017, while the one for HBO’s home on 6th Ave runs out in 2018. There are plenty of options in Manhattan, including the new World Trade Center. But neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut probably will try to persuade Time Warner to move some of its operations, and jobs. Bewkes warned staffers that “it is likely this process may lead to speculation and rumors over the coming months.”

Comments (0)

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: ‘Too Much Excitement’ About Premium VOD

Time Warner Jeff Bewkes comes across as the media world’s most laid-back CEO. But he asked a lot this morning when he told movie theater owners to cool their jets about Premium VOD. “There’s been too much excitement about this,” Bewkes said at a panel discussion sponsored by investment firm Jefferies & Co. “Our interests are aligned.” That will come as a surprise to the National Association of Theater Owners and its members who loathe PVOD as much as the Tea Party hates taxes. Exhibitors say many would-be ticket buyers will wait to watch films at home as studios including Warner Bros begin to offer 8-week-old releases on cable and satellite VOD services for about $30 a showing. Bewkes says theater owners are wrong: “I’m saying (box office revenue) doesn’t go down.” Everyone will suffer, he says, if the studios can’t provide an alternative to pirates who sell bootlegged copies of recent movies to people who don’t want to wait for the official home video release. Other panel members — none of them exhibitors — supported Bewkes. CBS chief Les Moonves said that although theater owners are scared, “you have to change a bit.” And Sony Corporation of America CFO Robert Wiesenthal said that “everybody is experimenting and being aggressive,” even though studios should recognize that theaters are “the foundation of the economic value chain for a feature film.” Read More »

Comments (2)

Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes Sounding Erratic

By | Wednesday April 27, 2011 @ 2:41pm PDT

Hmm, Jeff Bewkes is about to turn 59 on May 25 but still isn’t anywhere near as old as that old coot Sumner Redstone who turns 88 two days later. But today Bewkes showed that he can be just as erratic. And, trust me, Wall Street and Main Street don’t like CEOs who can’t keep their corporate strategies consistent. For the past months, the Time Warner boss has been publicly and repeatedly beating up on Netflix because of its recent moves that can and will hurt HBO. Among other insults during his jihad, Bewkes has compared Netflix to the hapless Albanian army in its attempt to take over the entertainment world while also expressing deep concern about its recent string of content partnerships. But today, during questioning at a NYC Bloomberg Business Of Entertainment event, Bewkes strangely played nice, saying “I do have a fondness for subscription television, and Netflix is subscription television. So, welcome, brother!” And he declared “if they move toward original programming, then they will be like HBO. We think it’s great that they are doing that.” Does Bewkes really think there’s no institutional memory of what he’s said before? On myriad matters, he has flip-flopped more times than presidential candidates. (So much for the advice that the boss is getting from his bungling “I’m not a flack, I’m a strategist” lieutenant Gary Ginsberg, who got himself fired at News Corp and should get fired from Time Warner as well for failing to ensure that Bewkes sticks to a consistent message.)

Bewkes also has allowed his Warner Bros staff sergeants to undermine if not destroy the relationship between moviemakers and theater owners with this ill-advised deal for a $30 premium video-on-demand partnership with DirecTV with the other colluding Big Media companies Universal and Fox and Sony. Read More »

Comments (12)

Jeff Bewkes: ‘Network TV Has Whip-Hand Over YouTube And iTunes’

Time Warner’s chairman and CEO says he asks what TV aggregators can do for his channels rather than the other way round. “New entrants such as Google , Amazon and Apple must support or improve programming going into the marketplace,” said Bewkes, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference in London this afternoon. For example, Time Warner keeps full-length shows off YouTube. The Time Warner boss predicted a shake-out among internet companies. Whatever was new on the internet, whether it’s a Google search engine or Facebook social media, tends to be winner takes all, he said.

Bewkes argued that with TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, which will come to UK Sky next year, TV is having its 2nd golden age. Partly this is because TV has kept pace with technology, from digital to HD to 3D. “We’re in the midst of a TV renaissance,” Bewkes tub-thumped. Bewkes singled out UK-originated shows such as Shameless, The Office, American Idol and X Factor as examples of quality TV. “The cultural impact of TV is now greater than movies. TV has become the most innovative medium in pop culture today. And it comes from increasing quality. Television is very healthy right now; TV is the only medium which has increased its audience apart from the internet.”

Given that 80% of Time Warner revenue comes from TV, Bewkes said he’d restructured the media giant as mainly a video programming business. “AOL was meant … Read More »

Comments (5)

SHAKEUP: Warner Bros Unveils Succession



2ND WRITETHRU (UPDATES 1:30 & 4:15 PM VERSIONS): Warner Bros Chairman/CEO Barry Meyer stays on for 2 more years. President/COO Alan Horn leaves next April and becomes consultant until the end of 2013. An Office Of The President is created and shared by Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum, and Kevin Tsujihara. Those are the headlines from today’s shakeup and succession announcement. This was expected, especially when Meyer kept dropping hints around Hollywood recently that he wanted to stay on. So was Horn, but the bad blood that’s existed between him and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes is legion. After all, Horn never cozied up to Bewkes even when Jeff was rumored to be taking over the top Time Warner job. “Alan never reached out to Jeff. Even with all the rumors of Jeff’s impending promotion, Alan never chased a relationship with Jeff at all. Never,” according to an insider. That dictated Alan would be gone according to the March 2009 don’t-let-the-door-hit-in-you-in-the-ass schedule of 2 years dictated by Bewkes. But not Barry now. “Alan’s really very hurt. He’s a very prideful guy,” a Horn pal tells me today. “It would have been much easier for him if Barry was leaving at the same time. Until very recently, Alan’s expectation was that he and Barry would be.” (How Horn could not have known what everybody else in Hollywood did, that Meyer wanted another 2 years, demonstrates how out of touch he has been and still is. But that is the result of Alan’s peculiar arrogance.)

I’ve just learned that Bewkes behind the scenes clarified his intentions to the new co-president troika. He told them he was not delaying succession. Instead, he made it clear that in 2 1/2-to-3 years, the trio of execs will be running Warner Bros together — that is, unless one of them fucks up. Bewkes told them: “I’m not bringing someone in and I don’t want a horserace. The 3 of you bring different skill sets to this so I want you to do this together.”

So why was Barry renewed for 2 more years? I’m told to “ease the transition”. There’s the transition with Wall Street because Bewkes has begun positioning Time Warner as a TV-centric company, noting that 80% of the Big Media behemoth’s profitability is from Turner, HBO, and half of Warner Bros. But there’s also another transition Meyer must ease, according to some of my sources. ”Bewkes is not so confident that Jeff [Robinov] is ready to step up, that he has the visibility or stature or personality to lead a theatrical division. Bewkes lets Rosenblum and Tsujihara talk to analysts. Robinov does not. Bewkes does not perceive Robinov at the same level. So Bewkes wants Barry on the front lines.” But, of all the co-presidenting trio, Robinov is the only one now with clear air. He no longer has to answer to Horn for greenlight authority after April 1st, and Meyer has always backburnered anything film-related. Whereas Rosenblum and Tsujihara still have their boss around. But Meyer gave them far more authority than Horn ever gave Robinov. (More on Robinov below.)

Meyer also positioned himself inside Hollywood and with Bewkes as the only mogul who could keep the upcoming Hollywood guild negotiations from running off the rails because he is the most extreme hardliner of all the studio and network bosses. (Indeed, his fellow moguls estimated to me that Barry extended the agony of the WGA strike by at least six weeks because he considered the labor action such a personal affront and didn’t “want to reward a strike”. But then, when SAG didn’t strike, he didn’t want to reward that either.) Today’s announcement comes just days from the kickoff of the negotiations season for contracts expiring in 2011. (On September 27th, SAG and AFTRA will begin jointly bargaining with the AMPTP for 7 weeks, followed by the DGA in mid-November. No date has yet been set for the WGA, whose contract ends May 1, 2011, but Meyer and the moguls and the AMPTP intend to negotiate with the writers last to ensure there’s the most Hollywood pressure on them.)

Back in late 2008-early 2009, when Meyer and Horn were renegotiating their own contracts, Bewkes balked at giving the Warner Bros duo a full 3-year, or 4-year, or 5-year vote of confidence. In the end, after not wanting to renew the pair, Bewkes kept them on a humiliating 2-year choke chain. Bewkes had only been in charge of Time Warner for one year, and Hollywood was waiting for him to shake things up at Warner Bros like when he re-possessed Bob Shaye’s New Line. He’s a cautious man, and he did the cautious thing.

At the time, cranky and tired Barry wanted to retire. But something happened to Meyer when he finally got his expiration date from Bewkes: it reanimated him. Suddenly, he was back doing his job aggressively. Warner Bros TV made a comeback after 2 years of losing clout when it couldn’t produce any successful new shows amid a plethora of expensive creative deals. But profitability wasn’t affected because of a legacy of TV hits. But credit also goes to Bruce Rosenblum, President of the Warner Bros Television Group, who for some time now has ably filled the power vacuum created by Meyer’s once imminent departure. Rosenblum now runs his division almost autonomously. If he titularly comes back under Meyer’s thumb, but don’t expect Bruce to give a shit. “Bruce is all about the hands-on creative and distribution and dealing-making process which Barry allowed him to do a lot more of in recent years. Also, while Barry is sitting back, Bruce is overseeing the TV strategy transition from analog to digital. All digital conversations are going through Bruce’s office.”

As for Horn, he just got more distracted and depleted after the rug was pulled out from under him. And just as stubborn Read More »

Comments 36

BIG MEDIA BACK? Jeff Bewkes Boasts Time Warner Having “Very Strong Recovery” Now

By | Thursday August 5, 2010 @ 1:45am PDT

Comments (7)