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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says distributors need to boost VOD

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Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said pay-TV distributors need to step up their game when it comes to video-on-demand.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Tuesday, Bewkes praised the potential video-on-demand has for the entertainment industry in that it makes it easier for consumers to catch up on shows they've missed and discover new content.

But at the same time, he chastised distributors for not doing more to not only promote VOD but also for having complicated interfaces that frustrate customers.

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"This is a big deal ... I do want to give a speech," Bewkes said. "There is very spotty performance among the distributors on how these tremendous VOD rights are conveyed to you," he told attendees.

Bewkes praised Comcast and Verizon for their VOD platforms but then said, "frankly a lot of other distributors haven't moved fast enough or effectively enough to deliver."

The risk distributors are taking by not embracing VOD, he said, is that other platforms will grow as threats to the status quo.

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"If we don't fill that need, then it is going to get filled by somebody else and it would be a missed opportunity," he said.

There was a humorous moment during the session when an investor asked Bewkes how the company's regional sports networks in Los Angeles were doing. Those networks are owned by Time Warner Cable, which was spun off from Time Warner several years ago.

Bewkes responded that he often gets emails from people complaining about their cable service.

"They think I was the guy who missed the installation appointment," he said.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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