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3Vision Insight - US TV Everywhere

25 Nov 2011
3Vision Insight - US TV Everywhere

As part of our ongoing series of 3Vision Insights and following a recent US trip we have taken a closer look at TV Everywhere activity - the much heralded multi-platform approaches that Pay TV platforms see as their defence against online video services.

TV Operators in the US are under constant pressure from analysts and commentators when it comes to the threat of “cord-cutting”. This threat is appearing more quickly in the US, with Netflix (despite recent issues) and Hulu Plus joining the vast array of other online video services taking up an increasing amount of US consumers time.

Comcast Xfinity

  • VOD content only from 15 broadcast channels via the Xfinity TV App with any WiFi connection
  • App features include TV guide, remote control and PVR control - but features vary with different devices
  • No live TV, no 3G or EDGE access and no premium first run transactional VOD movies

Cablevision - Optimum

  • Live TV channels from Optimum app - available only within the home (but stated aim to offer outside also)
  • Playback your VOD rentals on your iPhone/iPad/touch, Android to follow - but no HBO Go access yet
  • App features include using your devices as a remote control, search, browse and set your PVR

Direct TV - Direct TV Online

  • HBO & Cinemax subscribers can access VOD through HBO Go and Max Go (Apps and online)
  • Mid tier subs can watch live games on NFL Ticket app with any WiFi connection
  • Features limited with out of home connection

AT&T - U-Verse Online

  • Mid tier subscribers can watch VOD from broadcast channels via Edge, 3G or any WiFi connection
  • Live TV offered - but not as TV Everywhere and for a monthly subscription as a limited mobile TV offer to all
  • Distinct differences in content offer for each device - even across iPhone/iPad/touch as well as Android

Verizon Fios - Flexview (multiple Apps)

  • VOD content only - includes premium first run transactional VOD movies
  • App features include using your devices as a remote control, search, browse and set your PVR
  • Requires subscription to Internet and TV - iPad restricted to home whereas other devices are fully mobile

Time Warner Cable

  • App features include using your devices as a remote control, search, browse, set your PVR and watch live TV
  • Available on the iPad, only via WiFi in the home, and free with expanded basic package
  • VOD content available only to Wideband internet customers with a Slingbox PRO-HD

All the major players have launched some kind of initiatives - with trends emerging as there is a gradual shift towards all devices, viewable everywhere for no extra cost (with some cross product requirements). But confusion also exists as a mixture of rights challenges, content security and App Store issues are distorting what operators would actually like to do and leaving the consumer confused as to what content is available, which of their devices they can access it on, and where they can use it. App features such as TV guides, remote controls and out of home PVR control are all becoming standard - but it is the inconsistencies with content offers across devices that is a concern. There remain many rights challenges that don’t help service launches - for example Time Warner pulling 11 of the original 32 channels from their live TV app just after launch thanks to disputes with Fox, Viacom and Discovery - later to be resolved.

FiOS were one of the first to push TV Everywhere with their Flexview VOD service. The service allow subs to review TV listings, control their STB, control their PVR remotely and access VOD to purchase and view, or resume VOD programming. Subs (with FiOS Internet and TV) can register four additional devices - but to illustrate the challenges behind marketing “Watch on any screen” there are access variations by devices. Apple devices have only just been added, and can only be used in the home - whereas others allow out of home access. With restrictions from content owner security issues, and still some App Store Terms and Conditions unappealing to operators, there are likely to remain differences in the short to medium term.

US operators are driving “Free at the point of access” TV Everywhere. As the device market begins to normalise, security concerns are overcome, and content owners are happier with their position in the value chain we will see more unified and extensive propositions. As Platforms roll-out what are currently predominantly on demand propositions they will need to stagger developments in terms of content, devices and availability. Our main concern from our recent US visit is that this needs to be done in a coordinated and clear way, avoiding consumer frustration and confusion which ultimately could impact uptake and derived value. The threat to cord-cutting is not immediate so there seems no reason to us to rush products out in a confused way.

For a full copy of this Insight and to be included in our distribution list for the 3Vision Insight series, please contact us. 3Vision Insights is a series of profiles documenting and providing comments on interesting and significant developments in our industry - recent editions include Netflix, Hulu, Sky Anytime+ & Samsung Smart TV.

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