TV Everywhere a Road to Nowhere?

The new Amazon-Discovery streaming video pact alone isn’t enough to send TV Everywhere into oblivion.

But are we getting closer to TV Nowhere land instead?

Look, I’m a fan of TV Everywhere, TV Anywhere, Capitalism and whatnot. I’d love to see cablers sling their programming around to various devices wherever consumers might be.

But TV Everywhere isn’t happening with any alacrity. The service was first announced nearly three years ago, and while there have been some rollouts, rights issues continue to bedevil the industry.

And yet, here we are, the morning after yet another deal with a programmer and a streaming service.

Which makes me wonder if TV Everywhere is going to wind up as the next thing that never fully materialized. For years, we were told, “this is the year of ITV” or “this is the year of VOD.”

But in terms of consumer adoption, online streaming services are already trumping VOD. In a recent report, research group TDG said that total VOD use represents only 1% of all U.S. TV viewing, and that in the fourth quarter of 2011 Netflix U.S. subscribers watched 80% more streaming video hours than were viewed in the same period on all U.S. Pay TV VOD.

If VOD is in half of U.S homes, what do these numbers say about the prospects for TV Everywhere adoption?

I’m not suggesting Amazon alone is going to trump TV Everywhere. But I am saying that online services like Netflix and Amazon are moving much faster than cable operators are in locking up rights. Netflix counts more than 55,000 instant streaming titles. With the 3000 episodes from TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery and others via the Discovery agreement, Amazon claims more than 17,000 streaming titles. The Discovery deal is Amazon’s biggest yet and follows a pact with Viacom  last year to bring MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and others to the streaming service. Also in the Amazon fold are CBS, Fox, NBC Universal, Warner Bros., Disney-ABC TV and more.

What we have here is a fast moving Online Everywhere train and a very slow going TV Maybe Somewhere train.

But there is movement in TV Everywhere. Yesterday, Cablevision said HBO Go  would be available to digital cable customers to access on any Internet-connected device including mobile phones.

Remember too that VOD has been most valuable for premium customers, and TV Everywhere still has great potential for consumer loyalty, said Bruce Leichtman, President and Principal Analyst with Leichtman Research Group. “Helping consumers maintain their relationship with their multi-channel video provider is nearly as worthwhile for content owners as it is for providers. For this reason, I think that content owners and providers will continue to work together to make TV Everywhere as viable an option as possible for those consumers who want to expand the value of their multi-channel video subscription.”

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