Cable Show: Poor Marketing, Low Awareness Hinder TVE

Los Angeles – While lackluster marketing efforts and poor consumer awareness have slowed the adoption of TV Everywhere, a panel of top programmers at the 2014 Cable Show said new efforts around major events like the World Cup and efforts to make the TVE experience more consistent across distribution platforms could give the service the boost it sorely needs.

TV Everywhere, or the ability for cable customers to watch select shows on any device at any time, has been touted as the industry’s answer to the over-the-top threat. But problems around authentication, a limited number of networks participating in the service because of rights issues and the difficulty for some consumers to access the service have hindered its acceptance. At the Cable Show Opening General Session Tuesday, Turner Broadcast Systems CEO John Martin called for programmers and distributors to work together to improve the customer experience.   

That theme continued to dominate on Wednesday, with top programming executives committing the bulk of a panel session moderated by Los Angeles Times staff writer Meg James called “Finding the Screens: Television Networks and the New Video Landscape,” to the TV Everywhere issue.

Despite the problems that have plagued the service, customers are beginning to see the value of TV Everywhere, especially when the service is promoted through major events like the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“We know the content is great and the customer wants to watch it,” said NBC Universal executive vice president, content distribution Matt Bond. But somewhere between the content and the customer there is a breakdown. And I think it’s pretty simple – there is not one brand, it’s been balkanized across various brands across the industry and authentication is a challenge.”

But despite those hurdles, Bond said TV Everywhere usage is growing, especially around major events like the Olympics.

Event programming could be the key to greater adoption of TV Everywhere, said HBO executive vice president, domestic network distribution Shelley Wright Brindle. She added that major events and even the introduction of the service on new platforms can drive awareness and spur users to use the service.

Wright Brindle said that with events, people are “willing to overcome the hassle,” of signing on to the service. She added that when HBO Go is launched on a new platform like Apple TV, registration for the service spikes.

“What it really means if you provide them with the experience or the content they will do it,” Wright Brindle said.

On that track, Univision Communications is taking advantage of a major upcoming sporting event – the 2014 World Cup – to help drive awareness and usage of TV Everywhere.

Univision president content distribution and corporate development Tonia O’Connor said the programmer will use the World Cup as a vehicle this summer to drive TV Everywhere authentication and usage.

“That’s our Olympics,” O’Connor said. “Our audience is extremely passionate about soccer and we are going to use that content with our distribution partners to make sure we can increase authentication.”

While marketing efforts behind the service have been scarce, that should begin to pick up. But Wright Brindle added those are not the only issues. Problems surrounding programming rights have also affected not only the networks that can be on the service, but where ad on what devices the service can be watched.

“Is it really TV Everywhere,” asked Wright Brindle. “It’s ‘Some TVs, Somewhere.’”  

Fox Networks president, distribution Mike Biard admitted that rights have been a hurdle to the adoption of TV Everywhere, but added that cable networks and broadcasters have different issues than premium networks, like advertising.

“It’s frustrating from our seats because we have the content and we want to make it available,” Biard said. “It’s just that there are a lot of steps to get there.”