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Bewkes: AT&T will ‘accelerate’ HBO Now growth

The international distribution of the HBO Now SVOD service will be “accelerated” by the sale of Time Warner to telecoms giant AT&T, according to Jeff Bewkes.

Jeff Bewkes1Speaking on an investor call yesterday, Time Warner CEO Bewkes (pictured) said plans to spread HBO Now – originally a US service – into new territories were progressing, and that its OTT operation in Scandinavia, HBO Nordic, was showing “accelerating growth”.

“We’re on track to launch in more international territories before the end of the year,” he said. “These are just early examples of the kinds of vibrant new services and capabilities we’re working on, and we plan to accelerate these as part of AT&T.”

HBO Now has been linked with a launch in Spain, with Brazil and Argentina debuts confirmed earlier this year, and Bewkes’ comments echo those of HBO chief exec Richard Plepler, who said in August there would be “announcements in the near future about new OTT businesses”.

Elsewhere in the investor call, Bewkes claimed selling Time Warner to AT&T, which owns DirecTV and the AT&T Audience Network, for US$85.4 billion (plus US$23.3 billion in debt) would allow the HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. parent to get “closer to consumers and… to go where they’re going”.

“And that is increasingly mobile, it’s increasingly multi-platform, increasingly on demand, and it’s increasingly through new services and packages via direct consumer relationships over broadband,” he said.

Bewkes will exit Time Warner once the merged company is properly functioning, which the companies have said is likely to take around 14 months after the deal.

Questioned on how Time Warner will preserve its creative culture, Bewkes responded he, Turner CEO John Martin, Warner Bros. boss Kevin Tsujihara, and HBO chief Plepler would ensure this remained.

“First of all, I’m not going anywhere, and we’ll be here through the closing and into quite a period of transition after that, and then Randall and I will figure out what’s the best way to go over the long run.

“The same is true of our division heads and all of our top execs, whether it’s John, Kevin and Richard and all the teams they lead. Then think of our creative partners, not just our programming development execs inside the company… most of the creative input comes from outside the company in partnership with us.”

Time Warner’s third-quarter financial results saw Turner revenues up 8.8% year-on-year at US$2.61 billion, HBO up 4.3% at US$1.43 billion, Warner Bros. up 6.6% at US$3.4 billion, with operating profits in those divisions all up.