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There's an explosion of great content: Time Warner CEO

Cord-cutting and on-demand consumer tastes have tested traditional TV companies in recent years. Yet Jeff Bewkes, chairman and CEO of Time Warner, is optimistic that his will flourish as long as the networks keep churning out great content.

"There's an explosion of TV programming," Bewkes said. "People love it, whether they're watching it on an iPad or on their TV."

Most of the core Turner Broadcasting audience is still watching on actual televisions, Bewkes said, adding that "everybody likes a big screen." Thanks to improving broadband, the TV ecosystem, as he put it, is adjusting to on-demand needs of consumers.

But by the year 2018, eMarketer predicts that one in five Americans won't subscribe to a cable TV package. Hulu, for example, is working on a cable-like service to offer more channels than Sling TV, at $30 a month. The streaming service is in advanced talks with two of its owners, Disney and Fox. While Time Warner is not involved, Bewkes said to "wait and see".

Time Warner counts CNN, HBO, TNT AND TBS, as brands that inspire particular loyalty. When customers are shopping for new bundles, whether it's through Comcast or Verizon or Sling, he said, his networks are sure to be a part of the decision.

"Could you live without any of those networks?" Bewkes asked, rhetorically. "No."

Another point of optimism is upfront season. Television networks host a series of events at critical advertising sales periods, allowing marketers to buy commercial airtime months before a television season begins.

"I was blown away by our upfront," Bewkes said, adding that he thinks the company will sell more ad space than last year. "You probably want to get in early this year. Demand is going up."

HBO has been a particular bright spot with room for growth going forward, he said. There are 70 million homes in America that are hooked up to a cable subscription yet don't have HBO, Bewkes said.

"We're attacking all of those," he said, adding that he thinks HBO is the biggest source of growth going forward. "All they've got to do is add it to that cable package, they don't need another distribution method to do it."

Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc. Jeff Bewkes speaks onstage during The New York Times DealBook Conference at One World Trade Center on December 11, 2014 in New York City.
Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc. Jeff Bewkes speaks onstage during The New York Times DealBook Conference at One World Trade Center on December 11, 2014 in New York City.

Bewkes dismissed the notion of splitting up these networks, which activist investors suggest might allow better functioning for networks. No way, he said, they operate best as a team.

"They gain a lot of strength and the ability to help each other when they go together in distribution," Bewkes said. "There are tremendous advantages and if you think about these together."