Chase Carey: TV Everywhere ‘Has Been Poorly Executed’11 Dec, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
21st Century Fox COO says consumer awareness of industry’s antidote to SVOD and cord cutting remains marginal
21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey became the latest entertainment executive to criticize industry TV Everywhere efforts aimed at retaining pay-TV subscribers through ubiquitous access via portable devices.
Rollout of the concept has been sluggish and ill-defined to consumers as content holders and distributors haggle over license rights and access, among other issues. Indeed, much of the retransmissions disputes involve digital access — issues Carey said shouldn’t be the main focus.
“TV Everywhere, is the right path, but I think it has been poorly executed to date,” Carey told analysts at the UBS Global Media & Communications confab in New York. “We need to put more energy into making that a simpler proposition and easier to use. Yes, it demands both sides, content and distributors to come together, but we really have not delivered on the promise on what TV Everywhere can and should be.”
Time Warner CFO John Martin last month said consumer awareness of TV Everywhere was anemic — a predicament he blamed the industry for. Indeed, while multichannel video program distributors and content holders deal with increasing numbers of video subscribers dropping service (1 million-plus in 2013), lower-cost SVOD (compared to bundled pay-TV) continues to gain traction.
In addition to rights disputes, distributors are still figuring out how to monetize ubiquitous (i.e. free) access to content for authenticated subscribers. Targeted advertising, which is not a new concept, however remains a work in progress in the new medium.
“Targeted advertising is an area you could bring you growth. Some of that is happening. But, I really do think that there are a lot of opportunities were not focusing on and maximizing the potential of them. Hopefully, we can do a better job. We have to be part of the solution, not sitting here picking on it,” he said.
At the same time, the executive said Fox remains committed to its Hulu renaissance — a strategy echoed by co-managing partner Disney (Comcast, due to regulatory issues, is a silent third partner).
“We’re excited about the future of Hulu. We’re invested in originals and catalog programming. Digital platforms are going to help us expand the reach of our brands. It is a unique franchise in the digital space,” Carey said.
He said that once Fox and Disney were on the same page with a shared vision of where the opportunity was for where they could take the business to, a new CEO was brought in, in addition to new funding.
“It is too important an asset not to develop it to its full potential. Which why we put the capital commitments behind it,” Carey said. “We need to capture that [digital] experience. It’s early days. I don’t think we have scratched service monetizing that viewership that is existing across those digital platforms.”
Specifically, Carey said Fox (and the industry) need to develop a user experience akin to SVOD (i.e. Netflix) and then monetize it.
“How do you create something consumers really value and really enjoy using,” he said. “How do we build the business models behind it? We’re monetizing a part of it. We’re scratching the surface. It’s a great opportunity for us. A real new diminution to our business.”
Meanwhile, Carey said the suggestion MVPDs replace bundled subscription plans with a-la-carte content offerings is a non-starter.
“A la carte [cable] is a farce. It just isn’t the answer,” he said.
Carey bristled about efforts being made to drag the public and regulators into the issue.
“I still think the bundle [TV subscription] is a great proposition,” he said. “When you look at it against the world of $5 lattes and cellular bills, it’s a great proposition. I wish we spent more time on how to build it better.”