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Time Warner CEO confident in the value of cable, aware of 'cord nevers'

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Cable ethernet
Cable ethernet

At a conference in New York, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes downplayed the threat of cord-cutters and other groups to the future of cable, emphasizing the value of bundled offerings. Bewkes characterized cord-cutters as a small group of low income households, but noted the rise of "cord-nevers" — those who grew up without cable television. That's a new trend, but Bewkes downplayed it, calling them wealthy kids who buy "three Starbucks a day" yet don't care about the cost of content. He also explained that the true value of cable and internet has actually increased over the years, stressing that more channels and faster speeds are being offered without a huge spike in customer costs.

Large content providers have resisted the change to digital consumption, keeping a tight grip on many of their programs while showing older episodes for a few titles through services like Hulu Plus and Netflix. Time Warner subsidiary HBO, for example, allows people to stream its content through the HBO Go app, but only for those who pay for the channel as part of a cable TV subscription.

Bewkes also addressed a situation that he referred to as the "sports tax" — in which those who don't watch sports are helping pay for those who do since it is included in the basic cable packages — and how it adds pressure to offer content à la carte (which many sports associations already do). He then asked, "If that can happen for sports, why couldn't it happen for sub-packages?" Unfortunately, Bewkes side-stepped having to answer his own question by reminding us that more channels are better than just the channels we want.