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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 06, 2013

Cable Gains, But Time Warner Doesn't in New Revenue Reports

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It's seldom a good sign when a company can be in the midst of a growth industry yet not see growth itself, but that seems to be just what happened with Time Warner (News - Alert) as a new report emerged detailing the company's revenue breakdown for the first quarter of 2013.

Despite some fairly major gains in cable television overall, Time Warner's total revenue didn't make anywhere near that level of gain. Time Warner reported revenue of $6.9 billion in the first quarter, but that's down one percent over the same time in 2012. Net income, though, was up 23.5 percent, reaching $0.75 a share for a total of $720 million. This compares very well to the first quarter of 2012, where the numbers were $0.59 a share at $583 million.

Interestingly, the comparatively flat total revenue for the company really didn't have much to do with Time Warner's performance in the cable field. In fact, chairman and chief executive Jeffrey L. Bewkes cited the cable arm as one of Time Warner's big successes, including the 10.7 million average viewers per night showing up for the NCAA action on various Turner channels. What hit Time Warner particularly hard, however, were its longer-term businesses: the magazines and the movies.

Time Warner expects to finish the necessary preparations to spin off Time into its own publicly-traded company by the end of this year, and that allows Time--along with People, InStyle and Sports Illustrated--to operate in its own sphere of influence. Given that revenue for Time Inc fell fully five percent over this time last year to $737 million--which in turn comprises an 11 percent dip in subscription revenue--it's easy to see why Time Warner would want Time a bit distant.

Perhaps more unexpected were the hits taking at Warner Brothers studio. Revenue dropped four percent to $2.7 billion, though operating income was up 23 percent to $263 million. Major releases like "Jack the Giant Slayer" and "Gangster Squad" performed under expectations, according to Bewkes, but only "Gangster Squad" has so far had a home video release. However, upcoming movies like "The Hangover Part III" and "The Great Gatsby" are giving Warner Brothers some cause for optimism.

Television was a huge plus for Time Warner, including NBC drama "Revolution (News - Alert)" and HBO's juggernaut hit "Game of Thrones", which pulls an average of 13.4 million viewers per episode, more if the number of pirate viewers is counted.

It's enough to make one wonder if what we're looking at is not so much a momentary hitch in the figures but rather a sea change. Magazine subscriptions are down, likely the result of users heading online to get news and information. Cable is up and doing well. Movies are down, and most of them are only theatrical releases. Is the theater seeing its closing days as home theaters continue to offer more in quality and variety of content? Are magazines a dying breed thanks to the e-reader? Is cable continuing to offer a major force in the home entertainment market thanks to its incredible convenience?

There are plenty of interesting possibilities contained in Time Warner's first quarter numbers, but it will take more than a quarter's numbers to truly derive possible trends. Still, it's certainly something to watch as cable looks to make new inroads and magazines and theatrical releases start to drop off.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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