WARNER BROS. TO LAUNCH PREMIUM VOD SOON
Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and New Line studios are planning to launch premium video-on-demand early next year, CEO Jeff Bewkes said Monday. Speaking at the 38th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, Bewkes said he anticipated that movies would become available for one-time rental on cable and online about 30 to 60 days before their debut on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. That would put them at the tail-end of their theatrical run. Bewkes said the studios would be working not only with traditional cable outlets but also with retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Sears, and others that also have deals with online video services. Pricing, he indicated, would probably be about twice the national average for a theater ticket, which is $7.50, putting it close to the price of a DVD. Whether consumers will be willing to pay $15-20 to watch a movie once just a few weeks before they can own it on DVD remains unknown, but Bewkes indicated that such a price is necessary to protect exhibitors. “I think the entire studio industry wants to be as protective as possible and not impinge upon the theatrical business,” he said. Indeed Viacom chief Philippe Dauman told the same conference on Monday that Paramount has no premium VOD plans in the works and is focusing on the needs of its exhibitors and distributors.