2010 Top Ten: TV Everywhere Moves
From the launch of websites such as HBO Go and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)’s Fancst Xfinity TV to the rollout of applications for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)’s iPad and other mobile devices, cable operators and programmers ramped up their “TV Everywhere” strategies in 2010.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and other providers say they want to deliver content to subscribers on any device anywhere they want to consume video, and pay-TV providers are racing to strike deals with programmers to market TVE content. Here are some of the key TVE stories we covered:
1. Dish Slings Its 'TV Everywhere' Strategy Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) threw down the gauntlet in January, allowing subscribers to remotely access content from their HD DVRs through the launch of a series of TVE products that rely on Sling Media Inc. ’s place-shifting technology. As its cable rivals used “TV Everywhere” to describe their multi-platform distribution strategies, Dish Network was the first provider to use the term in its marketing campaigns. (See Dish: TV Everywhere Site Is Portal to Growth and Dish Starts Selling 'Sling-Loaded' HD-DVR .)
2. Verizon Goes iPad Crazy Verizon looked to beat Comcast, Cablevision, and other rivals to market with an application that delivered live video to the iPad. But while Verizon may have been the first to demonstrate live TV channels running on an iPad, the iPad app that it finally launched in December offered more limited features, and mostly turns the iPad into a remote control. (See Everyone's Mad About the iPad .)
3. Comcast's TV Everywhere Play Breaks Out of Beta Nearly a year after it began testing Fancast Xfinity TV with subscribers, Comcast launched its TVE site nationally to subscribers in October. Comcast may have the broadest content offering of all pay-TV providers on its TVE portal, which includes 50,000 movies and TV shows available for streaming, rental, and purchase. (See Comcast Tees Up TV Everywhere Relaunch , Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight , and Comcast to Expand 'Xfinity' to DSL Subs.)
4. Boxee CEO: MSOs Should 'Go Over-the-Top' Suggesting that Comcast and other cable MSOs should use TVE sites to distribute video to subscribers outside their footprints, Boxee CEO Avner Ronen drew attention from cable execs at an event in April. Rather than trying to prevent customers from cutting the cord on their cable-TV subscriptions, Ronen said operators should instead focus on selling faster broadband Internet connections to subscribers that rely on over-the-top (OTT) video for home entertainment. (See Boxee Launches Cord-Cutting Box .)
5. Comcast CEO Dismisses Cord-Cutting Trend Noting that cable MSOs, DBS providers, and telcos added about 500,000 subscribers during the first quarter, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts tried to debunk reports that viewers were cutting the cord on cable TV. Roberts focused the bulk of his appearance at The Cable Show in Los Angeles on touting Comcast’s TVE strategy. (See Execs Downplay Web Video Threat.)
6. Indie MSOs Plug ‘Dumb Pipe’ Video Model While Comcast hasn’t yet begun to market Fancast Xfinity TV to non-subscribers, a few small cable operators embraced the idea of selling subscribers access to a “dumb pipe” that would deliver video from broadband-based OTT firms or other outside providers. (See TV Everywhere, Money Nowhere.)
7. EPIX Gains Traction With 'TV Everywhere' Model Making multi-platform distribution its core focus, Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) began to gain some traction with the launch of new premium channel Epix. Epix may not have the original series offered by top premium channel HBO, but the network boasts that it distributes more movies formatted for distribution on computers and mobile devices than its rivals. Charter Communications Inc. , Cox Communications Inc. , and other MSOs are also offering Epix as an option to customers that only subscribe to high-speed Internet access.
8. Verizon Gets First Taste of 'HBO GO' Portal Verizon was the first pay-TV provider to allow subscribers to watch Entourage, True Blood, and other original series and movies from HBO with the launch of HBO Go in February. While HBO struck a deal later in the year to offer HBO Go to Google TV owners, viewers must subscribe to HBO’s premium cable channel before they can watch it on a Google TV device. (See Google TV Tunes In HBO GO.)
9. Consumer Groups Want 'TV Everywhere' Probe It didn’t take long for Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. and other advocacy groups to rip into cable MSOs and programmers for requiring viewers to subscribe to a cable-TV package in order to view pay content on the Web.
10. Cable Networks Warn of TV Everywhere Failure Insisting that TVE distribution must be paid for through subscription fees and ad revenue, top cable programmers warned that the rollout of TVE sites threatened the industry’s core revenue source.
— Steve Donohue, Special to