Time Warner CEO Claims Apple’s 99-Cent Shows Would “Jeopardize” Future Of TV

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99 Cent Only Stores LogoAnother day, another big media boss comes out against Apple’s plans to revolutionize online video. And this one really doesn’t look like he’ll be backing down anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter.

Apple Revolution


is ultra-keen to bring online video into the living room in a mainstream way. With Apple TV providing the hardware to make this happen, all that’s now needed is content; lots of it, and at the right price.

Apple has already done this for music in a big way, with iTunes bringing the reality of albums and tracks available to purchase in a simple way to bear. And Apple has managed to persuade the music industry and major record labels that pricing is the key.

Unfortunately, the company appears to be having a tougher time persuading the television industry and major networks and channels that this is also the case for video.

Affordable On-Demand Video

Apple has been pushing to secure individual episodes of TV shows for 99-cents, with viewers able to rent the shows for 24 or 48 hours. Disney and News Corps. signed on the dotted line, but other big players are simply not interested.

Last month, Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer indicated this was a no-go for his company, although his wording that “we’d rather not” suggested there was some wiggle room and that things could change in the future. Others are being more resolute in their dismissal.

Time Warner Not Impressed

Step forward Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, stated last week during the Royal Television Conference in London:

“How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?”

“These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.”

There seems to be one important element missing from this diatribe, and that is viewers. There was I thinking viewers were the most important thing in the whole TV/advertising/programming equation, but I must be wrong.


In Bewkes’ world viewers are bottom of the heap when it comes to what part of the industry to nurture. So what if Apple is trying to offer viewers a chance to see individual episodes at a reasonable price? They can watch it on conventional television when we tell them they can. Or they can go without.

Unfortunately for Bewkes, and fortunately for viewers, this is a view looking to the past rather than the future. Video on demand is the future, and the sooner some of these companies realize this fact the more secure their long-term futures will become.

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