TV Everywhere Emerging From the SVOD Shadows9 Jul, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Industry panel says the battle with SVOD for consumer eyeballs remains in the early innings with TV Everywhere platforms poised to effectively compete with subscription streaming
In the ongoing battle for consumer eyeballs in the home, media companies and multichannel video program distributors’ efforts to roll out TV Everywhere platforms would appear to be losing the war to low-cost subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix.
Such assessment would be premature, said panelists in a July 9 TV Everywhere webinar hosted by Rovi Corp. and moderated by David Sidebottom, senior market analyst of broadcast, content and services with Futuresource Consulting in London.
As Netflix’s domestic subscriber base tops 30 million — exceeding cable, satellite TV and telecommunications providers’ video subs on an individual basis — TV Everywhere platforms enabling authenticated viewers to access programming on demand via connected devices have emerged to an indifferent consumer.
With the exception of HBO Go, which Netflix heralds as an industry standard, TV Everywhere efforts begun four years ago by cable and satellite operators, AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS have largely been viewed as extensions of what can already done with the TV and a DVR.
“I think there’s a long way to go … but we’ve seen upgrades, particularly in Europe and the U.S., with some significant opportunities,” Sidebottom said, alluding to premium and original content offerings now being introduced on select TV Everywhere platforms.
Walt Disney’s ABC TV network in May began offering free TV Everywhere access on a trial basis to local affiliates in New York and Philadelphia, with plans to widen access to six other affiliates by the end of the year.
In a recent fiscal call, Disney management said TV Everywhere apps for the Disney Channel had been downloaded more than 15 million times.
“While we are still in the very early days, the feedback we’ve received has been very positive and we are working diligently towards increasing distribution of these services in more markets across the country,” Ben Pyne, president of global distribution with Disney/ABC Television Group, said in a statement.
Webinar panelists said TV Everywhere operators can remain competitive with SVOD through unique content and utilizing their economies of scale in rolling out service. Specifically, MVPDs should market their access to sports and live events, including news.
“People still want that live content,” said Charles Dawes, global strategic account director with Rovi.
CNN discovered the value of live programming on TV Everywhere following the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt for the terrorists.
The cable network said usage of its TV Everywhere app — bowed in 2011 — surged to near record levels.
“We'd never quite seen anything like what happened with the Boston manhunt. It had the hallmarks of a story made for CNN and told through technology,” Alex Wellen, VP of business products and strategy at CNN Digital, told TVNewsCheck.com. “There's a lot of room for building the awareness and building that connection and we think more and more we'll recruit users of [TVE]. We think that the time spent will be very high, particularly as people flow between devices.”
Connected Devices Evolving, So Is Demand for Content
Sidebottom said research on connected TVs indicates increase use by users to access digital radio, music, electronic books and video games — the latter accounting for 30% of connected TV use in a survey.
Indeed, 71% of U.S. respondents in a Rovi Insights survey said they stream video on a mobile phone or tablet, with active users streaming video at least two to three times a week. That percentage tops streamers in Italy (66%), the United Kingdom (62%), Spain (60%), Denmark (51%) and France (45%).
In the U.S., most respondents streamed movies (35%), followed by user-generated content (24%) and TV programming (23%). More than 63% of respondents said they spend at least 30 minutes watching video in a single session.
Notably, 96% of respondents believe their MVPD should provide free mobile access to TV shows.
“I think we’re just scratching the service here,” Sidebottom said regarding connected devices and TVs. “We’ve come a long way in the past few years and I think in the next two to three years you’ll see those boundaries pushed even more through better processing abilities and better user interfaces.”
Indeed, the analyst questions which channels consumers will ultimately opt to access their video content: a connected TV, a bundled subscription, a set-top box, digital media player, connected smartphone or tablet.
“It is going to be a battle for the eyeballs,” Sidebottom said. “It’s going to boil down to the user experience, the content and overall ease of access.”