Cable Show: TVE Progress Made with Content

Los Angeles --Against the backdrop of CTAM’s push for an industry-wide marketing effort to promote and establish best practices, including sign-in for “tv everywhere,” industry executives gathered at a Cable Show panel here Wednesday to discuss the state of the platform.

The consensus is that the industry -- programmers and distributors alike -- are making progress, especially on the content availability front, but much works remain when it comes to awareness and ease of authentication.

To that end, CTAM president and CEO John Lansing, the moderator of “Now Playing on Any Screen: What’s Now & What’s Next in TV Everywhere,” asserted the group’s goals of raising awareness among pay video subscribers from 17% at the end of 2013 to 50% by the conclusion of this year; lift usage to 50% among that expanded set; and to get 75% of its members to support a uniform sign-up process.

Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager video services at Comcast Cable, said there isn’t a programmer out there that “isn’t leaning into tv everywhere,” and that industry has critical mass in terms of available fare. He also said strides  have been made in terms of facilitating verification, pointing toward Comcast’s use of customers’ email accounts, Facebook credentials and auto-IP identification.

“Making authentication easy is one of our key goals,” he said.  Strauss and A&E Networks' Mark Garner are the co-chairmen of the CTAM steering committee on tve.

The panelists agreed that tve awareness was high for a couple of recent sporting events.

Ron Lamprecht, executive vice president of distribution, NBCUniversal, said the programmer has come a long way since the Vancouver Winter Olympics when it was on “the bleeding edge and there wasn’t’ much awareness” of the tve platform. That jumped considerably by the 2012 London Summer Games, and the Sochi Olympics surpassed expectations with a 50% authentication success rate, not to mention 2.2 million streams for U.S.-Russia hockey game, a total that surpasses the 2.1 million for verification-free Super Bowl XLVI.

Jeremy Legg, senior vice president development and multiplatform distribution at Turner Broadcasting System, also reported strong numbers from the 2014 men’s basketball tournament. NCAA March Madness Live dunked 69 million video streams for this year’s tourney, with an 85% authentication success rate from video subs of TBS, TNT and truTV.

While these events raise the bar for tve and underline its potential, the challenge is to get more users involved outside of these galvanizing moments.

Michael Angus, senior vice president and general manager of Time Warner Cable, said such tentpoles events bring customers into the tve arena, where they “can snack on content and then get them hooked.”  Credentialing begins there for the video subscribers, and then it’s easy to get their kids signed up for the application for Cartoon Network.

He said Time Warner Cable has flipped the "abandon" rate, with its authentication ratio now in the 80% range. Collectively the industry, he said, must work toward making the process “friction-free.”

Tamara Franklin, executive vice president of digital at Scripps Networks Interactive, said that while the Knoxville, Tenn.-headquartered programmer doesn’t offer scripted fare or sports, it still draws 94% of its audience within the live+3 viewing window, a ratio that has benefited from tve's arrival..

She said that Mad Men or sports might be the first option on the primary TV in the household, but with the availability of tve programming on other devices, Scripps's passionate lifestyle viewers can stay abreast of their favorites. “It helps us that there is less DVR watching and more live viewing,” she said.

All of the panelists concurred on the value of tve and its role in maintaining the current programmer/MPVD ecosystem. Lansing asked the executives to rate the importance of tve on a scale of 1 to 5.

“Five,” Angus quickly replied. Franklin agreed: “It’s the future of our industry.”

Lamprecht weighed in by saying NBCU is “all in.”

Legg upped the ante to “six,” before Strauss put the final bid at “seven.”