Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes had a rather simple answer as to why HBO Now has a single, exclusive over-the-top partner in Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL): It's the marketing.
"They're so good and energetic in marketing," Bewkes told a Palm Beach, Fla. audience Tuesday at the Deutsche Bank Media, Technology & Telecom Conference.
"They have such a strong position in global users and all of those connected devices," he added. "They have marketing and retail communication with hundreds of millions of people. We thought that would be a good partner to elevate and get the value of HBO out there."
On Monday, at an event that was supposed to just showcase its new connected smart watch, Apple also announced its exclusive partnership with HBO Now, the new a la carte HBO programming service. This is the first product from the Time Warner-owned programmer that doesn't require a cable subscription.
The price ($14.99) and Apple's involvement were hardly surprising. But the fact that HBO was eschewing so many other popular OTT platforms—Android, Roku, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, just to name a few—was a bit of a head-scratcher.
For his part, Bewkes said he understands why HBO's traditional main marketing partners, pay-TV operators, are forsaking it on its big OTT venture.
"We have some who believe it's competitive with them and that they should have maintained their ability to be the sole place to get HBO," he said.
Bewkes also wondered aloud if MVPDs are being short-sighted, given that 70 million of their basic customers don't have HBO.
"It very much invigorates their offering of high-end packages," he said. "Those should be HBO homes."
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