Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TV Everywhere

How do you protect your cable subscription revenue? First, assure that your content networks don't give everything away to the web; and second, provide your subscribers with access to TV content on other platforms. "The major worry is that if cable networks do not protect the fees from paying subscribers, and offer most programming online at no cost — as newspapers have done — then customers may eventually cancel their cable subscriptions." That is the slippery slope of the internet today, provided by these same content companies charging cable operators fees for network carriage and then turning around and posting shows at no charge on Hulu,, and other websites. As these sites get more content, cable may find itself in a losing battle.

It sounds kinda nice to have access to cable and broadcast channels on the computer. I recently got to watch Monday's US Open final streamed via MSNBC. No authentication required. The TV Everywhere concept would require that you as a cable subscriber are authorized to watch networks on the web. "The first test of the new system, which will authenticate cable subscribers online and make available programs on the Web for no additional charge, will be announced Wednesday, between Comcast and Time Warner. The trial will involve about 5,000 Comcast subscribers, and television shows from the Time Warner networks TNT and TBS."

It is one thing to be authenticated in your own home, but how can I as a "authenticated" subscriber be able to watch this content away from my home. At the office, in a hotel, away from home, I want the mobility to watch where I am and not to be tethered to my wired home. It sounds eerily similar to what Slingbox offers. So unless cable is offering this capability, I say skip it. If mobility is what you are after, Slingbox is the cure. Cable should strike a deal with Slingbox and put it in every set top box. That strategy might just retain cable subscription and beat Hulu and the web.