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Access Doubts Dent NBCU's Olympics Ambitions

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Independent Show -- NBCUniversal LLC and its partners are spending millions to promote an online video package that will help to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the London 2012 Olympics, but one of its top executives acknowledges concerns that customers unfamiliar with TV Everywhere might have trouble finding the services.

That's because some pay-TV customers might not know, or perhaps not know how to get, the sign-on credentials they'll need to gain access to the multi-screen component of NBCU's TV Everywhere coverage, said Matt Bond, NBCU's executive VP of content distribution, during a panel about the TV Everywhere and over-the-top video markets.

In the case of cable operator customers, those TV Everywhere credentials are likely to be their email address and password, but many customers use Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Gmail or another provider for email, rather than the email provided by the cable operator, which is the one they need. And even those customers that do have their authentication details handy may not realize that access to NBCU's online video coverage is already covered by their pay-TV subscriptions and does not command an additional fee.

"There's a little bit of ignorance of the [TV Everywhere] product out there that hurts us," Bond said. "People have to understand what it is. That's an awareness and knowledge issue. Those are solvable issues."

The good news heading into the Olympics is that the single sign-on authentication process, enabled by Adobe Pass, has been working well and is ready for prime time, he added.

This year's Olympics could prove to be a watershed moment for the TV Everywhere concept. Most major pay-TV operators, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), plan to offer a record 5,535-plus hours of coverage that NBCU is providing through a stable of cable channels and by streaming video to PCs and mobile apps.

And it's not a game that just the big MSOs will play. More than 85 smaller MSOs representing about 2 million customers have also signed on to secure access to NBCU's Olympics TV Everywhere coverage using a new authentication platform provided through the National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) , said Richard Frey, VP of authentication and platform management for the co-op, which negotiates bulk deals on gear and programming for nearly 1,000 independent operators. (See Cable Co-Op Lights Up TV Everywhere Platform .)

TV Everywhere's roadmap
Looking beyond the Olympics, Bond also discussed what's on NBCU's TV Everywhere roadmap. That includes moving NBCU's video-on-demand (VoD) content to the TV Everywhere model, because "the rights profile is clearer," he said, noting that the plan is to offer five rolling episodes of shows on tablets, smartphones and other connected devices.

Further out, NBCU is interested in helping its pay-TV partners offer its live, linear TV channels to customers outside the home, but that "will be a long time coming," Bond warned, citing complex rights issues and the need to get that traffic measured properly by The Nielsen Co. "It will be many years before that gets resolved," he said. [Ed. note: More reason to keep those Slingboxes around.]

Offering linear TV on mobile devices is one of the items on the agenda for Buckeye CableSystem , which just signed Azuki Systems to power its TV Everywhere platform. (See Azuki Takes Buckeye's TV Everywhere.)

But it's not just about the content. Maintaining the operator's brand and offering a consistent user interface across platforms is also important, especially if cable operators intend to be the consumer's video "aggregator of choice," said Buckeye CTO Joe Jensen. MSOs, he said, must strive to "maintain our presence in the context of a TV Everywhere solution."

Many other cable operators that have yet to launch TV Everywhere are likely thinking along similar lines. Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Alan Breznick said 75 percent of service providers that responded to a recent survey said they intend to use IP technologies to ship VoD and other forms of video to tablets and other connected devices.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:26:35 PM
re: Access Doubts Dent NBCU's Olympics Ambitions

You could say that some suscribers might struggle to get over the first hurdle.... but that would be crass and infantile.


 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:26:33 PM
re: Access Doubts Dent NBCU's Olympics Ambitions But still valid. I give some credit that he is pointing out a possible sticking point. It also came up when ops started tv everywhere and the sign on process was a lot more cumbersome. Be interested to see how the online video piece performs during the games as the scope and scale of coverage looks to climb. JB
joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:26:26 PM
re: Access Doubts Dent NBCU's Olympics Ambitions

It seems like there might be an opportunity for one of the video service providers to pull ahead of the pack here by doing an awareness campaign about this. If people aren't aware Olympics coverage is available for no extra fee via TV Everywhere or don't remember how to set themselves up to get it, maybe it's not too late to remind them.

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