Time Warner Plans HBO Marketing Push to Speed Network's Growth

TBS and TNT, Meanwhile, Plot More Sports and More Original Shows

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Emilia Clarke stars as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's 'Game of Thrones.'
Emilia Clarke stars as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's 'Game of Thrones.' Credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO via Bloomberg

Time Warner is planning a marketing push for its premium cable channel HBO later this year in a bid to accelerate growth at its prized TV network, the home of series such as "Game of Thrones," "Girls" and "Boardwalk Empire."

The campaign will take place in the fourth quarter across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, Chief Financial Officer Howard Averill said yesterday at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch media conference in Beverly Hills, California.

The growth potential of HBO, whose library available to subscribers also includes shows from "The Wire" to "Sex and the City," was a factor in Time Warner's decision to reject a $75 billion takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox this summer. Time Warner's standalone strategy includes an upgraded HBO Go mobile app and easier access to the channel for broadband internet users who don't want to buy a full cable-TV package.

There are also opportunities for HBO in international markets, Mr. Averill said. While expenses may rise by about 5% a year, profit margins will expand at HBO, he said.

At the cable networks TNT and TBS, part of Time Warner's Turner division, Mr. Averill said the company needs to take "more creative risk," and will increase its original content in the next "few years."

Sports and original programming account for about 30% of the content on TBS and TNT, a figure the company plans to increase to about 50%.

John Martin, the CEO of Turner Broadcasting, is "close to hiring" an entertainment head, Mr. Averill said. The job has been open since Steve Koonin left in April to become CEO of the Atlanta Hawks.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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