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TV Everywhere: Dangers in Being Second to Over-The-Top Competitors

At a Crossroads TV Everywhere must be conveyed as Superior Product

Time Warner Cable (NTSE: TWC) and Comcast’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK) intent in creating TV Everywhere conjured up a cable TV presence on the Internet where customers could browse and view huge varieties of content by just being a customer. That seemed a fairly simple and innovative concept formed to stem the eventual defection of their subscriber base to OTT content via YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and others. It was unique 3 years ago and promised to be exclusive to their clientele. But in reality the concept is much different than the original vision cable operators promoted. The danger is that being second to OTT’s is that subscriber defection continues to be prolific.

Authentication and Distribution

The process of offering the Internet version of huge channel line-ups offered by Cable operators has hit a snag both in the authentication and distribution process. It seems that it is difficult technically to offer an authentication portal without hitting snags that usurp customer friendliness, and distribution rights to all that programming is being tied up in agreement squabbles with programmers. The ideal scenario would be to offer that programming to customers anywhere, anytime and on any device which would include Smartphones, IPAD’s and other devices, living up to the title TV Everywhere. (See Plans for ‘TV Everywhere’ Bog Down in Tangled Pacts)

Industry in danger of being left behind

Subscriber erosion continues to proliferate as consumers find other ways to get their content with Connected-Smart TV’s through services like Netflix, Hulu, Redbox, Soku and others which offer programming free as distributors look to connect directly to customers via OTT, not just through Cable Operators. This puts the pressure on cable to get its act together with TV Everywhere, making it easier to connect with all that programming currently behind pay-walls. It is a dilemma that operators must solve and quickly to circumvent a tide of discontent and dissatisfaction with the status-quo.

”[T]his is not the time to rest on their laurels, but to ask can the industry take further advantage of the opportunity and give consumers more of what they want. “By far the most powerful way to do that is what we call Content Everywhere,” or TV Everywhere. We do risk letting others take this opportunity” if the industry doesn’t follow through with determination”.Jeff Bewkes, Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom Conference (See TV Everywhere “Years Away”, Viacom Executives Says)

Operators must solve TV Everywhere Issues

First the issues limiting TV Everywhere must be solved. Agreements with programmers must be reached without the competitive fear-factor operators seem to have in dealing with a new Internet environment. The days of locking up content behind a pay-wall, demanding customers buy all or nothing subscription plans is a dead leader. Alternative plans must be developed to entice consumers to buy programming with much more flexibility in pricing and bundles. Those packages must have a mirror to TV Everywhere on the Internet with viewing options on any device, coupled in solving the technical and CRM issues.

Leadership must Communicate Vision

Leadership from cable companies must be firm and concise. The message to constituents both internal and external must be clear. Urgency must be communicated often and without hesitation. That message must be that we are going where we have not gone before, to create a better product reflective of current market competition, and that we can compete effectively and win the customer with that product.

By Leonard Grace, Founder & Editor - Broadband Convergent

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