Last fall, a team of four Harvard Business School students presented a business and marketing plan for a next-generation TV Everywhere (TVE) service during the 2014 Interactive Launch Competition in New York.
Speaking before an industry audience and an executive judges' panel, the MBA students recognized TVE's struggles with authentication, awareness and monetization, but said the industry is addressing those issues. They proposed an online service that aggregates TVE content, leverages social media and curates content based on personal preferences.
Those Harvard kids are pretty darn smart. The judges, including top executives of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Discovery Communications and Hearst Television, awarded them first prize.
Nearly six years after the TVE initiative officially launched, service providers and programming networks have launched more than 100 TVE apps, ranging from HBO GO and WatchESPN to TWC TV and Xfinity TV Go, according to a new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, "TV Everywhere Gaining Traction, Looking to Go Far." Now new opportunities are emerging to enhance, grow and monetize TVE apps.
The current TVE apps mostly offer on-demand content, video clips or delayed broadcasts of programs without extra charge for authenticated cable customers inside their homes. But, increasingly, program networks are being made available with live streaming and access outside of the home as well, the report says. The networks' experiences with TVE are spawning a new wave of direct-to-consumer, over-the-top (OTT) online services by HBO, Showtime, CBS, NBCU and others.
Despite its initial struggles, in the fourth quarter of 2014 authenticated viewing grew 591% year-over-year, according to the FreeWheel Video Monetization Report released in February. The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), which has been tackling awareness and usability issues, said awareness of TVE has risen by more than 10% since April 2014 and the total amount of net users rose to 54% in January 2015.
Adobe last week said authenticated video viewing has grown 467% in the past 24 months, according to its latest Adobe Digital Index. Adobe predicted that active viewership of TVE among all pay-TV subscribers will increase to 18% by the end of 2015, up from 12.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The Heavy Reading report chronicles efforts by various industry groups such as the Open Authentication Technology Committee (OATC), whose members include cable companies, programmers and suppliers, to develop easier authentication methods as well as curtail password sharing. The report also profiles 19 software suppliers offering solutions to enhance user experience with content discovery, personalization and social media, and to promote monetization through dynamic ad insertion (DAI) and usage metrics.
The plethora of online distribution platforms for television networks provides new ways to reach consumers, but it will require a delicate balancing act, Heavy Reading says. How will HBO balance which content goes on HBO On Demand (on cable), HBO GO (on TVE) and HBO Now (direct-to-consumer), while simultaneously preserving its contractual relationships with its distributors? HBO may provide some clues, as it plans to launch HBO Now in time for the April 12 season premiere of Game of Thrones.
— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider
TV Everywhere Gaining Traction, Looking to Go Far, a 20-page report in PDF format, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,499. Individual reports are available for $595. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/cable.