The Problem With TV Everywhere: No One Wants It
That said, I would argue that the real problem with TV Everywhere is that it’s an unwanted solution to a problem that people don’t really have. Despite what the pundits say, people don’t want a “TV” experience everywhere. Seriously, who honestly likes the user interface of their TV? Even video-on-demand leaves us wanting a better solution.
Yes, we love TV content, and we love TV reliability, but if you asked people what they really wanted it, wouldn’t be “TV everywhere,” it would be content (news, entertainment, etc.) -- everywhere and on-demand. Viewing TV and video content is now something that happens at any time throughout the day. Consumers in today’s world take their content with them around the house -- and beyond. That doesn’t mean we want to port the remote + set-top-box experience everywhere as well.
You might argue that Content Everywhere and TV Everywhere are one and the same. Who knows, perhaps in time they can be, but the modern-day version of TV Everywhere starts with porting the home viewing experience and the content you have access to on your home television to other devices within the home, and with limited access outside the home. On the flip side, devices such as the Sling Hopper, and platforms like Hulu, Netflix and their ilk, are focused on content licensing for consumption that’s not tethered to the home, but allows for viewing flexibility and content consumption literally everywhere -- even outside the U.S.
While no one can deny that content volume is an important factor for consumers, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), and programming networks, one could argue that user interface and meeting consumer expectations consistently are equally, if not more, important. Think about it. There are more shows than any one person can possibly watch (well, maybe any person other than @jasonhirschhorn). How many conversations have you had that go like this:
Katie: “Have you seen show X? It’s AMAZING!”
Bob: “No. But have you see show Y? Mind-blowing!”
Katie: “Keep meaning to, but I have been so caught up in show Z, I just can’t stop.”
Bob: "I've heard
I should watch that one, but next up for me is show XY season two.”
So for most people seeking Content Everywhere, interface usability, organization, navigation and consistency of available content are most important.
The funny thing is, we know where this all ends up, or at least where it should: Consumers pay one bill for access to all content, anywhere and
everywhere. The complex windowing and multiplatform licensing is a legacy that is hurting the overall consumer experience, not to mention double or triple charging consumers (example: if you pay for
cable TV, Hulu and Netflix, a majority of what you’re paying for is on all the platforms at one time or another). Rich Greenfield has a more in-depth post on this issue here.
Consumers should be able to pay one bill and receive unfettered access to everything. Unfortunately, the success of the concept of Content Everywhere hinges on the ability of MVPDs and programming networks to put aside their differences for the greater good of the consumer experience.
Even if this does happen, the industry will still need to solve some key business challenges. Top of the list is the giant dent the decreased advertising revenue will put in content production. You know that old saying, “digital dimes for analog dollars”? Well, at scale that’s a lot of dollars to dimes. Other challenges include determining what the new bundle would look like. Who delivers it? How do we measure it (networks are already worried they’re losing ad revenue, since Nielsen can't measure views on the iPad or OOH)? This is what makes the Verizon acquisition of Intel’s virtual MSO group so interesting. And while I would bet on the current MSOs and MVPDs, you can’t count out Google or Amazon, although Amazon says it isn’t interested.
Yes, the idea of TV Everywhere is exciting and necessary, given today’s media landscape. However, Content Everywhere is what we should be striving for. Content Everywhere will allow content owners and consumers to forge a new, symbiotic relationship in a much more personalized way, while creating innovative business models designed to dispel concerns of lost revenue.