TV Everywhere: Elsewhere Or Nowhere?
A growing number of network executives have been moaning about the disparate iterations of TV Everywhere. Every network seems to have a different way to handle it.
HBO Go, for example, has no ads. Some TV Everywhere apps have the same commercial load as traditional TV; others have much less. Some have recent episodes of shows; others have full seasons’ worth. All have trouble with viewing metrics -- at least when comparing one app with another. Executives have complained about little or no standards with standard-screen digital devices, but it’s worse with mobile.
Yet, two things are constant:
- Networks have a desperate need to be in mobile (because that's where consumers are going).
- Marketers need to follow consumers in order to compensate for TV fractionalization. No one can afford to stand around and wait for more perfect conditions.
History can be a lesson here. Marketers took a leap in the ‘80s by getting into the then-new TV technology/distribution system: cable TV networks. Early adopters were rewarded with low-cost media, and some received promising media returns. Scale grew and standard measurement became a reality.
With TV Everywhere, consumers aren't trained to figure out distribution and price points for each network or group of networks. Imagine if they had had to leap the same hurdles with the set-top boxes and interfaces of traditional TV service from cable, satellite, or telcos.
That's what consumers are up against in the new digital TV/video world.
TV Everywhere also has a penetration issue. Around half of U.S. pay TV subscribers (who make up around 90% of all TV homes) have access to TV Everywhere apps and digital platforms. And national marketers look to national scale for their messaging.
Frustration abounds, but consumers don't stand still. Just ask some 25 million Netflix users. One would think that the traditional TV business -- networks and distributors -- could have figured out a model on the likes of Netflix or perhaps the growing Amazon Prime. (To be fair, NBCUniversal, Fox and Disney moved quickly on Hulu and then Hulu Plus).
But concern should ramp up regarding the lackluster efforts to provide simplified TV Everywhere access for consumers. TV networks and producers need to figure this out -- before someone else does.