When a TV host interviews his boss, there’s always a risk at softball question and nice platitudes. But Fareed Zakaria isn’t that kind of guy – so when he sat down with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, he pretty much asked him what everyone has been wondering… isn’t the Web eating cable’s lunch?
Bewkes: “Today, there’s a screen for everybody. There’s not only TVs across every room, but now – this is probably the untold story – television is taking over the Internet. And what the Internet does, is it…
Zakaria: Wait say that again, so the Internet is not taking over television, television is taking over the Internet?
Bewkes: Television is taking over the Internet.
Wow, ok – here’s how Bewkes does that math. He says that now anyone can watch any show on any screen – TV everywhere – but only if you’ve got a cable subscription. Zakaria asked back, with some skeptism that this ‘great unbundling’ will undermine the revenue of cable TV. ” There is a study I saw which said Nielsen says most Americans watch just 9 percent of the TV channels available to them” said Zakaria, suggesting that they could get a better deal by paying for just what they watch. “Doesn’t that mean that what’s going to happen is there’s going to be an unbundling and those who don’t want to watch sports who don’t have to pay this big, fat cable fee that encompasses everything.”
But Bewkes is sure that the value of the bundle will overcome the cord cutters, citing that 85 percent of the homes in the United States subscribe to some package of television. And what about cord cutting? Bewkes hints that moving the cable offering to an on demand service may be the missing link to get young people to sign up for a bundled program offering. As he explained it: “we think the reason (young people aren’t buying cable) is that we haven’t really made all the channels, the hundreds of channels on your television dial, they’re not that easy to access yet on an on-demand basis.”
When Bewkes says he thinks that the internet is going to be taken over by TV, he’s not kidding. He told Zakaria “We believe as the industry – HBO Go is a good example. If you’re an HBO subscriber and you are used to going to the broadband and watching HBO Go, that is the future of TV. Every channel on television, the whole TV dial, is going to work the same way that YouTube works or that Netflix works.”
And the data supports Bewkes claims. Comscore released data showing that a dramatic 186.1 million US Viewers watched online content videos in April 2014. Not surprisingly, YouTube ranked as the top video content property with 155.7 million unique viewers and VEVO topped the list of YouTube partner channels. But the #2 spot is held by Facebook with 87 million viewers, followed by AOL, Inc. with 65.3 million, Yahoo Sites with 52.2 million.
So anyone who thinks cable network owners see the emergence of Over The Top on demand programing as the end of cable TV haven’t met Bewkes. He sees the web as fueling a global TV revolution. Cable isn’t the enemy of “on demand” in his eyes, it’s the future. Says Bewkes: ”This TV revolution is going global across the world. Right now, if you have a show like “Big Bang Theory,” “GPS” on CNN, it’s being watched all over the world. And it’s being watched on-demand, not always at the scheduled time.”