Tracy Dolgin, chief of the YES Network, offered several reasons this week why "TV Everywhere" still poses significant hurdles for the industry. Two have been cited before, but there was one that appeared to make its public debut: a risk of piracy.
Unless cable operators make broader efforts to determine exactly who is accessing the content, there is a risk of consumers gaming the system, Dolgin said.
"You actually have to know who's watching, not someone they've given their pass code to," he said at an Advertising Week event.
"TV Everywhere" is the industry initiative where cable and other operators make networks available to viewers on multiple platforms, so long as they go through an authentication log-in process to prove they also have a TV subscription.
But what if the keys are passed along through a college dorm or at a book club? Cousins on the West Coast have almost certainly handed over a Netflix password to kin back East.
So far, with TV Everywhere still establishing itself, any bootlegging has probably been minimal, but a more precise authentication process -- and who knows how that would work -- may be needed. Don't bet against the engineers at a Cablevision or Verizon coming up with the functionality. But preventing people from giving a friend access when they're paying $150 a month for TV service might not be the best PR move.
The YES Network Dolgin leads is a regional sports network in the New York area, which airs about 130 Yankees games a year and a slew of other programming.
The Turner networks, along with HBO and ESPN, have been among the programmers who have experimented with TV Everywhere, which could gain increased interest as consumers enjoy watching on iPads and maybe the new Kindle.
Yet, YES's Dolgin also mentioned two other potential hold-ups -- albeit well-trodden ones -- that may make content providers reticent about allowing a Dish Network or Cox to make their programming "globally" available.
Agreements need to be cut that give an economic benefit to the networks and operators. And, networks want sturdy viewership metrics, so they can monetize the consumption with advertisers.
"We would be out of or minds to allow our content to migrate (to) all platforms until the data is being used," he said.
Nielsen has launched a system that can meld TV and broadband viewing together to produce a single C3 rating, which can then be used as market currency.
To a degree, YES Network has been involved in some TV Everywhere-type initiatives. Outside the New York area, an MLB.tv package allows consumers to view Yankees games. In the YES home market, games are available for streaming on broadband through deals with multiple operators.
There, consumers need to prove they also receive the network on TV. And unlike other TV Everywhere packages, they must also pay an added access fee.
On the FAQ page for the service, a question is "May I share my account with others?"
Answer: "No. Sharing of your username and password is strictly prohibited."