Is TV Everywhere doomed? Some media industry analysts seem to think so.
The broad experiment by pay-TV providers to offer their subscribers access to TV content on Web-enabled devices has failed to gain traction, although many pay-TV providers have been offering such services now for years.
"It's simply a mess," BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield tells the Los Angeles Times. "A complete and utter failure."
For starters, most pay-TV subscribers aren’t even aware that they have access to TV Everywhere services. According to a recent survey by Parks Associates, fewer than 20 percent of pay-TV subscribers know of TV Everywhere. Meanwhile, Parks Research Director Brett Sappington points out that pay-TV companies have spent no money marketing these services.
Could it be that pay-TV companies are doing this on purpose?
"If this is designed to be cable's tool to fight over-the-top services, the lack of awareness really negates its effectiveness in defending their subscriber base," says Sappington.
So what do programmers and pay-TV providers have to say for themselves?
Given the tenuous relationship between the two, it may come as no surprise that some are blaming each other. “The real stumbling block has been deals,” Andy Heller, the TV Everywhere point person for Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, tells the LA Times. He says programmers and distributors are using TV Everywhere negotiations as an excuse to “change terms and conditions” of other contracts.
Some industry watchers believe these are calculated moves by pay-TV providers to hold subscribers hostage to their overpriced channel bundles.
"The big cable, satellite and phone companies, which benefit from the status quo, are trying to put down this revolution in online video," Marvin Ammori, a legal fellow at the New America Foundation Open Technology Institute, argues in a paper submitted to the Justice Department.
As Denise Denson, executive vice president of content distribution for Viacom, says, in order for TV Everywhere to be a success, it “is going to have to be more seamless and almost invisible to the consumer.”
A seamless, one-stop-shop for pay-TV content online would certainly be a good thing for consumers, but at the moment, given the extremely low level of awareness of TV Everywhere, it’s the service itself that is almost invisible. And maybe that’s how pay-TV providers want it.