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Time Warner CEO: Cable should let consumers 'use the interface they want'

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Boston -- Rather than push consumers to use interfaces developed by cable operators to navigate video programming, the industry should let viewers access content on any device or platform, including products from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes said Wednesday.

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner

Bewkes

"We as an industry have to look at the interfaces and let the consumer use the interface they want. If they like what Apple does, or Netflix does, you've got to let them use that. You'll still have your subscriber relationships," Bewkes said during the closing general session at The Cable Show convention.

Bewkes, News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) COO Chase Carey and Cox CEO Pat Esser endorsed TV Everywhere distribution models that let consumers access subscription video programming on the web and mobile devices. Carey and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the industry faces challenges keeping up with the rapid changes in technology and rates of consumer adoption to new devices and platforms.

"We get hung up too much on, what are the rules of the past. We need to figure out how do we adopt and embrace these new technologies and ways to deliver a better customer experience," Carey said.

Bewkes said it shouldn't matter which device a consumer uses to watch video, including big TV screens on a wall or tablet computers. Sarandos echoed that sentiment.

"I think that we are at the very first stages of a reinvention of television," Sarandos said.

Also worth noting from Wednesday's closing session:

  • Esser called Netflix a "frenemy," noting that 40 percent of Cox's cable modem customers streamed Netflix content in March. He said that HBO Go generated about 800,000 video streams that month.
  • Sarandos said the amount of content that Nickelodeon distributes on Netflix isn't the cause of a decline in ratings that the kids network has seen in TV homes. He said no single show has generated such a sizable audience on Netflix "that you would see that cause and effect on ratings."

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