Comcast and Time Warner Cable joined hands together today to push the TV Anywhere concept forward. Both companies have been pursuing a concept of bringing cable programming online to meet the rising competitive challenge presented by online content aggregators like Hulu, Amazon.com video on demand, and Netflix. Comcast’s version of this concept is OnDemand Online, while Time Warner Cable coined ‘TV Everywhere.’ The two are now aligned and announced an upcoming trial for 5,000 homes, using Turner Entertainment content to test the concept.
According to a Comcast media release, the two cable companies have agreed to the following TV Everywhere principles:
- Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms.
- Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge.
- Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection.
- Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online.
- Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication.
- A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms.
- TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.
It’s a pretty ambitious agenda – one that will be difficult to execute. We can’t begin to imagine the authentication nightmares this concept presents. Companies like thePlatform (a Comcast subsidiary) are hard at work trying to implement this vision. Ideally, this concept will allow a current subscriber (in good standing) of a multichannel video service from any distributor (cable, DBS, or telcoTV) to access cable programming from any appropriate broadband connected device. The thought being of course, in such a world, subscribers will have less motivation to bypass (and ultimately drop) a paying video subscription for free online content from any number of video centric websites.
“This progressive approach to delivering television content online will enable the continued vibrancy and growth of distribution outlets, their content partners and advertising clients,” says Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts added, “Ultimately, our goal is to make TV content available to our customers on all platforms.”
The concept will certainly see its fair share of naysayers, many of whom will see it as a conspiracy by media conglomerates to hold on to a dying business model. But, whatever the outcome regarding the distribution of entertainment content, all parties need to find a model where both the consumers appetite to consume content on their own terms and the producers of entertainment receive the necessary funding to produce quality product are met. We’ll have to see if TV Anywhere can meet this very complex challenge.