Maybe I’m sometimes a glass half-empty kind of guy, but a piece I read on Adobe’s CMO.com and it reminded me that the TV Everywhere revolution has been just a slow--very slow--grind.
CMO.com now says TVE adoption is “certainly on the rise.” But taking a look at some of the stats it presents, the upside sometimes seems to be hard to see.
That’s startling, because “adapting” to TV Everywhere really doesn’t entail consumer expense, and just the most elementary technological ability, really nothing to it. It also seems to be the right viewing adaptation for where the consumers are headed.
At the recent INTX industry convention in Boston, executives argued, pretty persuasively, that TV Everywhere is rounding the corner. “We need a lot more love for this experience,” said Anne Cowan, SVP of communications and marketing for the industry organization CTAM.
One of TVE's biggest problems is getting people to know it exists. That should embarrass the biz, which otherwise touts TV’s ability to build product awareness. And yet, a CTAM-sponsored study by Hub Research revealed that 53% of consumers still don’t realize TV Everywhere exists, 54% don’t understand it and 51% think it will cost them.
So while it may be true, as the CMO Website states, that TV Everywhere reached 40% of pay TV subscribers by the end of 2015, that seems somehow paltry as mobile devices--a prime TVE carrier--have proliferated. A huge portion of the US viewing universe is walking around a with a TV screen in their back pockets; that's going to waste.
According to a study by GfK quoted on Homemagazine.com, at the end of 2015, “monthly use of specific TVE platforms among users ages 13 to 64 remains small. Just 16% of subscribers use TV networks’ smart TV app and Website; mobile app (14%) or mobile site (12%). Usage isn’t any better for TV service providers’ smart TV apps (15%), Website (13%), mobile app (12%) and mobile site (11%).”
That article took a fairly dim view of TVE progress, and while it’s certainly possible to come to a more positive assessment, it still seems a plodding function and one that disappoints people. CMO.com quotes a Viacom report that says, “While 19% of users say they have no problems with their TVE experiences, the top issues tend to be tech-related, including loading/buffering (24%) and crashing/freezing (23%). Content-related issues are far less common.”
That report was from 2014, a real eternity ago. Clearly, things are changing, and it’s about time. CTAM’s Cowan touted a double-digit growth in TV Everywhere viewing in Q1, and noted TVE adoption grew by 36% among pay subscribers. What’s more, 84% of frequent TV Everywhere viewers now say it’s why they’re sticking with they pay TV subscription in the first place.
Since finding reasons to stick with cable seems to be getting harder to do for many users, that last data point may be most significant to operator and firstname.lastname@example.org
The primary reason that TVE is so muddied a concept and so few consumers gave a clue what is meant by the term is the lack of a unifying force---such as some source of worthwhile content. People consume TV because of content not because of the various ways they can gain access to "it". Who are TVE's major program providers? What unique content do they offer? When is it aired? How, exactly does one gain access? Can said content be gotten via "normal" viewing channels or "platforms?" etc. etc.
The biggest problem is not knowing if it exists. The biggest problem is actually watching what you want, when you want, as easily as possible, without having to constantly re-enter user names and passwords, and then being told that you don't have access, even though you do.
Which makes me question the numbers being thrown around about how many people who "have" TV anywhere, and have paid for it, are actually able to watch their programs. You paid for the cake, and you have the cake, but you only rarely are able to eat your cake, when you want to, if at all.
Until watching "TV anywhere" becomes as simple as turning on and tuning in my old-fashioned TV, without having to make yet another phone call to one or more techs to figure out why I'm not getting what I already paid for, I'm tuning out.