updated 09:50 am EDT, Wed September 29, 2010
Claims idea jeopardizes syndication sales
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has joined others in the TV industry in criticizing 99-cent TV show rentals and purchases from Apple and Amazon. The executive recently spoke at the Royal Television Conference in London. "How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode," he said, "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," Bewkes added. "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." Some in the industry have worried that setting prices too low could make it difficult to fund TV shows, which can cost as much as $1 million or more per episode in the case of high-profile entries.
Warner Bros. head Barry Meyer recently complained less about the loss of syndication revenue than the potential effect on season collections. Box sets are an important source of revenue for TV networks, helping to justify the production costs of some shows. At 99 cents per episode, it may be cheaper to rent or buy episodes individually than pick up a discounted season on DVD.