Time Warner chief touts TV Everywhere; disses Netflix again

Jeff Bewkes says that TV Everywhere's rollout has been faster than video on demand, and HBO Go has streamed more than 98 million programs.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
2 min read
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is committed to talking up his company's digital strategy, but he just can't help himself from hurling insults at Netflix whenever the topic comes up.

Speaking to the Financial Times in an interview published yesterday, Bewkes spent much of his time focusing on TV Everywhere, an effort spearheaded by his company to bring television programming to more form factors. He also responded to critics who say that it has taken too long for content providers to offer their programming on various services and devices.

TV Everywhere is "the fastest digital roll-out, faster than [digital video recorders], faster than [video on demand]," Bewkes told Financial Times. He went on to say that the concept is "all falling into the right place."

Surprisingly, though, one of the chief applications Time Warner uses to bring its content to other devices--HBO Go--is not available to Time Warner Cable. Bewkes told the publication that Time Warner Cable, which Time Warner spun off in 2009, has so far done a poor job of "promoting TV Everywhere," and has thus forced him to rethink offering digital services to the cable provider's customers.

But even without support for Time Warner Cable customers, HBO Go, which provides access to the network's entire slate of programming to Verizon and Cox Cable customers, among many others, has proven successful. Bewkes says users have downloaded the app 5 million times and streamed over 98 million programs since its launch last year.

HBO Go and TV Everywhere are Time Warner's responses to Netflix, a company that Bewkes has criticized in the past for paying too little for quality content. Earlier this year, Bewkes took aim at Netflix, saying in an interview with The New York Times that the streaming provider has no chance of overcoming cable service providers and content creators.

"Is the Albanian army going to take over the world?" Bewkes said in a comparison to Netflix. "I don't think so."

Bewkes was similarly dismissive in his interview with the Financial Times, saying that Netflix's is only made up of "archival content that nobody would want in Blockbuster."

"It can do certain things and not other things," Bewkes said of Netflix. "It can fly, it's not a submarine. Don't turn a hamburger into a cow."

Netflix hasn't been so willing to hurl insults at Time Warner, but earlier this year, the company's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, did speculate on why Bewkes takes such issue with his company.

"We will be an aggressive bidder for [Warner Bros.] programming," Sarandos said in January. "That will be good for Warner Bros., not so good for HBO...That's why I think there's some aggravation."

The deal between Warner Bros. and HBO isn't set to expire until 2014. However, interested companies are expected to start negotiating for access to Warner Bros. streaming rights long before the HBO deal is up.