Time Warner CEO Talks Up Conan, iPad Apps, Broadband HBO On Demand

Jeff Bewkes.

On a conference call this morning, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes talked up the “strong ad uptick” that helped boost his company’s second quarter profits to $562 million, up 7% from $524 million a year earlier, and its revenues to $6.4 billion, up 8% from a year earlier, their biggest growth rate since the second quarter of 2008.On the TV side, where revenues rose 11% to $3.2 billion (Time Warner is the parent of Turner Broadcasting and HBO) Bewkes singled out Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS from NBC, saying advertisers paid broadcast rates for the 11 p.m. slot he’s taking over this fall.

“We saw extremely strong demand for Conan O’Brien” at the network’s recent upfront, he said, adding of Turner’s truTV: It “was treated like a top-10 network.”

Bewkes also predicted that “Boardwalk Empire,” a prohibition-era drama set in Atlantic City that debuts next month, “will be HBO’s next breakout hit.”

Bewkes declined to say whether HBO would offer web-only shows subscriptions, but he repeatedly talked up HBO On Demand.

“You’ll soon be seeing it on all your broadband devices because you’re a subscriber to HBO,” he said. “If you put HBO On Demand on all broadband devices, that’s gonna be the big news for this next year.”

Asked whether he thought competition from Netflix, which Warner Bros. has a streaming partnership with, could hurt HBO, Bewkes said: “It’s a potential competitor, although so far it’s been more of a complementary service than a competitor.” He also noted that DVD sales at Warner Bros. are on the rise since the studio now requires Netflix to wait 28 days before renting its new-releases to the public.

Meanwhile, box office sales for movies like “Clash of the Titans” and “Sex and the City 2” helped boost Warner Bros.’ revenues 8% to $2.5 billion in the second quarter.

On the publishing side, Time Inc.’s ad revenues rose 4% to $21 million, but overall revenues remained flat at $919 million due to decreases in other areas.

On the earnings call, Bewkes gave a plug to the iPad apps that have been developed for Time, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and Fortune, and said they would be developing apps for other tablets, though he didn’t specify which ones he was referring to. Android and HP are working on tablets that are expected to be launched within the year.

“We anticipate our subscribers will be able to enjoy the same amazing experience on every tablet,” he said.

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