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Time Warner CFO Eyes Foreign SVOD Distribution

10 Sep, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Time Warner CFO Howard Averill

Howard Averill hints at possible HBO Now launches oversees

When HBO in April launched over-the-top video service HBO Now, parent Time Warner said the subscription streaming service would help produce user data about cord-cutting and millennial markets in addition to acting as a possible springboard for foreign SVOD launches.

Speaking Sept. 10 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., Time Warner CFO Howard Averill said HBO Now remains a new business with a steep learning curve. He didn’t disclose subscriber numbers.

“We’re making progress … we’re pleased with the progress, but it’s still a dynamic situation,” he said.

The CFO said that as HBO Now expands beyond initial partners Apple and Cablevision, followed by Verizon, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast, opportunities abound to mine user data and consumer insight on the 10 million to 20 million broadband-only homes. According to Averill, few traditional HBO subs have cancelled service for HBO Now.

“We expect there are going to be more platforms and more [digital] distribution in the near future,” Averill said. “The real goal for HBO Now is to set about for the long term. We feel that over-the-top [video] outside the U.S. could be substantial.”

The CFO said SVOD remains one component in Time Warner’s foreign strategy. HBO and Cinemax are currently branded networks in about 60 countries, territories Time Warner is considering launching OTT video as well.

“HBO is a real brand around the world with real consumer recognition,” Averill said. “Having that presence in those markets gives us an opportunity to potentially launch our premium standalone streaming services at some point.”

Straddling the fence supporting both pay-TV as well as new digital distribution, Averill called on accelerated improvements by pay-TV operators. The executive cited Turner’s recent deal with Comcast granting the cable operator full-season stacking rights to episodic programming.

“We believe in-season stacking should become the norm to continue to strengthen that [pay-TV] ecosystem. We are really well-positioned to operate in the traditional ecosystem and outside the ecosystem,” Averill said.


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