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It’s been more than two years since Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, and leading cable MSOs, announced the TV Everywhere initiative.
The goal was to place as much cable and broadcast network programming as possible on authenticated broadband platforms. Cable subscribers would be able to watch programming they already had paid for on their PC’s and laptops.
The unspoken hope was that TV Everywhere would help stave off cord cutting.
But TV Everywhere has grown slowly for a number of reasons. Lack of programming rights, fuzzy business models, the lack of Nielsen ratings, even the rise of Netflix and other online buyers of programming, have curbed the growth of TV Everywhere from the grand vision of two years ago.
Even the name, “TV Everywhere,” rang a bit hollow for many consumers, since “everywhere” was confined to nonlive VOD-type programming only associated with laptops and PCs.
In the intervening time, the iPad tornado has blown through the media industry, causing basic behavior assumptions to be questioned and entire business strategies to be re-written.
The iPad, and its brethren devices that extend into the smartphone space, however, might just hijack TV Everywhere to exactly where MSOs want it to go. It would be a serendipitous turn of events.
There is a concern today that a sizable number of 20-somethings will not subscribe to pay TV once they are out on their own. The fear is that the ubiquity of certain content on the Internet and the high cost of a pay TV subscriptions (cable, DBS or telco) will all cause gross additions in younger demographics to drop.
But what if the world moves to a place where the vast majority of live and on demand content is available across all manner of devices, including those near and dear to the hearts of 25-year-olds, which causes them to purchase, say, a $50 video subscription alongside a $50 broadband package. Suppose the ability to see all that cable programming on a laptop, PC, smartphone and tablet, versus just a TV, is the value of a $50 video subscription----where the value proposition in their eyes is $10 for the programming and $40 for multiple points of access.
It’s the true definition of TV Everywhere. The value equation shifts from an argument of programming’s relative cost (it’s not worth it, I only watch 10 channels) to the value of multiple device access to that programming (I can watch all content I’m interested in, anywhere).
It’s akin to the transition taking place in cable today where cable’s value equation is as much tied to broadband as it is to video.
This new utility paradigm (ubiquitous access) could supersede the cord cutting debate, and achieve the end goal of TV Everywhere---keeping pay TV subscriptions stable and the programming eco system intact---if programmers and operators can agree on business models in this brave new world.
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