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If You Fill Screens, Viewers Will Come: Panel

NEW YORK — Authentication is a popular culprit when it comes to challenges hindering the adoption of TV everywhere services, but many say those issues are being overplayed.

Authentication problems “are a bit of a red herring,” Evan Silverman, senior vice president of digital media at A+E Networks, said here last week at The TV of Tomorrow Show NYC 2014 event, noting that consumers are accustomed to log-in processes. Angie Britt, vice president of advanced products at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, moderated the session.

“That’s not the issue , ” Silverman said. “It’s about content … They [consumers] will authenticate if the content is there.”


To cite one example, he said HBO GO is successful because it doesn’t have a content problem — it generally offers every show of every episode in the premium programmer’s library of originals, which plays right into consumers’ desire to binge on TV series.

Advertising and monetization of TVE is the second barrier, Silverman said.

But not everyone agrees that authentication issues have been solved to the point that it’s friction-free. “I still think there’s room for improvement,” Julius Lee, director of digital video distribution at Disney and ESPN Media Networks, said.

TVE education, he said, is still important, particularly among children who try to access apps such as WATCH Disney Channel. To help solve that, Disney has posted a video to help walk kids through the process while also noting that they should ask for permission from their parents.

“With kids, we need to be very sensitive,” he said. But once they’re in, the challenge is to showcase the content that’s available to them. “People are staying once they authenticate.”

Panelists were also asked to size up their biggest TVE achievements over the last year.

Silverman said 20% to 25% of A+E’s digital views aver coming from over-the-top apps, with 60% of all digital views coming way of the company’s TVE apps. Roku and Apple TV boxes are the most popular streaming platforms for the programmer’s apps, he said.

Brian Dutt, director of advisory services at Comcast-owned advanced ad tech company FreeWheel, noted that there’s been a 35% surge in ad views of premium, long form content. Such numbers show that TVE “has really arrived” over the past year.


Looking ahead, 2015 will be about the “buddy box,” Noah Levine, principal product evangelist at Adobe, predicted, pointing to the continued adoption of platforms like the Roku and Apple TV. But that will also amplify measurement challenges and digital blind spots that can dilute the advertising ecosystem, he noted.

Dutt echoed that notion. Web browsers are the easiest to monitor, he said, while mobile phones, tablets and smart TVs present more of a challenge.

Another issue everyone needs to get a grip on is the financial return they can get on their TVE investments. “Managing dozens of apps on hundreds of platforms can be costprohibitive,” Perry Weinstein, Accedo’s sales and business development director, North America, said.

Accedo, which counts Netflix, Showtime, The Walt Disney Co. and DirecTV among its clients, specializes in front-end apps that solve for systems integration and device fragmentation.

The panel also covered the different ways TVE apps are distributed — either directly by the programmer or through aggregated systems run by pay TV operators.

While programmers want to be part of the mix if consumers prefer to use MVPD portals, “there are advantages to owning the access point,” Lee acknowledged.

Silverman said there’s something to like about both models, acknowledged that A+E likes it when consumers use its apps in part because it means that his content is not surrounded by shows from competitors.

But portals provide different benefits, particularly in helping consumers discover new shows, “like the old school way of flipping through an EPG,” Dutt said.