Friday, March 27, 2015

Can TV Everywhere Help The Cable Industry

Today's Variety poses an interesting question, Is Cable's 'TV Everywhere' Strategy Finally Poised to Take Off?  According to an Adobe Systems' study, viewership doubled from the previous year to reach 20% of all pay households.  That is to say that 20% of all cable subscribers were authenticated to watch TV programming away from their cable box across other streaming devices.  Reasons for authentication included streaming Olympics coverage as well as World Cup Soccer.  And come this next football season, the NFL has agreed to stream a regular season football game.  Whether that also involves authentication remains to be seen.

I've had the pleasure of downloading network apps that require my cable email and password for authentication.  I've read reviews from others that have downloaded and used apps from Xfinity to NBC to CBSN.  As for ad supported networks, a number of the reviews are unkind.  Examples include gems like this, "I do not usually write reviews but the duplicate, redundant, and excessive amount of ads thrown at me while watching a single episode ..." Or this one, "This app is hopeless streaming to Apple TV."  Or "The commercials are loud and so repetitive".  Some are more positive, "Easy to operate. Wish for less commercials."  Clearly there is need for improvement.

That consumers are using these apps and are so passionate indicates to me how valuable they can be.  Technically, more can always be done to improve the viewing experience, assuring no glitches or freezing, and an easy interface to choose and watch content.  The other issue is commercial load and how much the consumer will watch before they turn away to commercial networks, continue to cut the cord to cable, and focus exclusively on subscription services like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.  If part of the goal of TV Everywhere is to drive value for cable TV, both on and off the cable box, then don't kill the golden goose before it even has time to fully hatch.

Clearly consumers are increasingly using these authenticated apps to enjoy their TV programming on their other devices, from iPads to iPhones to Roku.  And enabling access to live network linear feeds as well as on demand viewing benefits the authenticated viewer with a better, more personalized viewing experience.  But like any good business, it is so important to listen to the customer.  Rule One, the customer is always right.  Rule Two, when the customer is wrong, see rule number one. 

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