Charter's TV Everywhere Rollout on Hold
As Charter Communications Inc. nears the end of a six-month "TV Everywhere" trial, executives there say they haven't decided whether to expand access to a website that offers subscribers access to content from their cable subscriptions.
While Charter VP of Product Management Carl Leuschner wouldn't rule out the possibility that Charter could one day launch a TV Everywhere portal along the lines of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s ambitious Xfinity TV Online site, he said Charter lacks agreements with programmers needed to market a site featuring content from dozens of networks. (See Comcast Tees Up TV Everywhere Relaunch .)
"They key learning for us is it's going to take some time to get that critical mass of programming," Leuschner told Light Reading Cable in a recent interview.
While Comcast has agreements with Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and other major programmers that allow its subscribers to access full-length TV episodes and movies from more than 90 networks, Charter only has nine networks in its TV Everywhere trial.
Charter's TVE lineup features channels from the Scripps Networks stable, including The Cooking Channel; Comcast Network Group's E!, Style Network and G4; Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA)'s MTV and Nickelodeon; The Weather Channel; and Epix, the new premium network partly owed by Viacom. (See EPIX Gains Traction With 'TV Everywhere' Model.)
"When you approach a trial like this for a six-month period, the negotiations have to be done one-by-one. It is hard to get 20 or 30 programmers lined up for a short-duration, small customer trial," Leuschner said. Charter's TVE trial, which began last spring, involved fewer than 10,000 subscribers, he added.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based Synacor Inc. , which operates the Charter.net portal, provided the MSO with technology used to authenticate which subscribers should get access to subscription content for the trial. Charter Manager of Internet Product Development Lisa Engelke said Charter was pleased with the technical side of the test. (See Synacor Sizes Up ‘TV Everywhere’ .)
"We’ve been satisfied with what we've seen from the trial so far, but we're not at the point where we've made any decisions with how we'd like to move forward. We’d like to gather information, and work on our overall strategy for 2011 and beyond," Engelke added.
Few pay-TV providers have launched TVE portals. In addition to Comcast's Xfnity TV Online, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s FiOS TV subscribers can access content from Turner Networks, Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) , and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), and several major MSOs allow subscribers to access premium content from Epix. (See 2010 Top Ten: TV Everywhere Moves.)
— Steve Donohue, Special to