Don't expect Time Warner content on the Apple TV anytime soon.
Speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London this week, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said that 99-cent rentals of his company's television shows makes no sense as far as the bottom line goes.
"How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode," Bewkes said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He added that doing so could "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."
Time Warner isn't a slouch in the television business. Its programming, including shows from subsidiaries HBO, CW, and Turner Broadcasting, could benefit the Apple TV in a big way. Regardless, Bewkes said that for the Apple TV to even come close to attracting media companies, it will need to offer two key features.
"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," he said.
Bewkes' comments echo those made last week by NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs investor conference, Zucker said that his decision to keep NBC content off the Apple TV was based in his perception that 99-cent rentals would "devalue" his company's content.
When he first announced the Apple TV at the beginning of September, Steve Jobs acknowledged that his company was having trouble coaxing studios and networks to join the rental program. But over time, Jobs said, he expects that they "will see the light and get on board with us."
The Apple TV is a set-top box that streams rental movies and TV shows and includes iTunes, Netflix, and Flickr support. According to Apple's Web store, the $99 Apple TV will ship to customers in two to three weeks. Apple has already started shipping devices to those who preordered the set-top box.