INTX 2016: TV Everywhere Is Lacking Love, Rich in Content

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BOSTON -- Reports of the death of TV everywhere are greatly exaggerated, executives from Comcast, CTAM, Disney-ABC and Viacom said at an Imagine Park session late on Monday.

“Today, thousands of hours of content is available live, on-demand, and streamed, on your choice of hundreds of apps, across a dozen or more devices -- oh, and it’s free with your pay-TV subscription,” Anne Cowan, senior vice president of communications and marketing for CTAM, said. “We need a lot more love for this experience. Just sayin’.”

The real story about TVE is studded with telling numbers: Double-digit growth in TVE viewing in the first quarter; 84% of frequent TVE users say it’s a reason they’ll stay with their provider for another year; adoption of TVE grew by 36% amongst pay-TV subscribers in the U.S.

Comcast’s Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are a whopping 29 points higher amongst partakers in Xfinity TV Everywhere, said Vito Forlenza, senior director of TV everywhere content and product strategy. “When we saw that, we knew were onto something -- that it was time to double-down.”

Comcast launched its TVE product in 2011 with 45 on-demand titles. Now, on-demand, live and linear content is streaming across 18 devices, with 115 linear networks (and 150 by year end) available in the home, or outside of the home. 

Under a marketing tagline of “if it’s on TV, it’s in your hands,” some 40% of its total video base is using the service, every quarter.

ESPN, which recently added live streaming and personalized notifications (from final scores to in-game highlights) to its app, is averaging 7 million unique devices per month, which is about 30% growth per month, said Julius Lee, senior director of affiliate partnership development and operations for Disney and ESPN Networks.

“We know that fans are accustomed to coming to the ESPN app to check the latest scores, highlights and news -- now they can live stream, too,” Lee said. On its “bread and butter” college football genre, usage (measured in minutes of viewing) is up 72%; in the football nailbiter between Clemson and Alabama, fans watched via the app for 140 million total minutes viewed (a 32% increase), on 2 million unique devices (a 38% lift.)

Some 26 million Nickelodeon fans downloaded the app, and usage is more than doubling, year over year, said Andrew Borak, vice president of marketing in the Viacom Media Networks Content division. At MTV, he said, average monthly downloads are up 54%, and monthly streams are up 84%, year over year. “This past month we hit an all-time high for authentication.”

Now all that’s left is to tackle the remaining barriers. On that list, and based on research conducted by Hub Research, for CTAM: A lack of understanding (54%), a lack of awareness that even exists (53%), an assumption that it costs extra (51%).

“There’s an art and a science to breaking down barriers,” Borak said. “The art is how to use the right language -- how to say it’s free, without saying ‘free.’”

The science is the blending of traditional audience research with consumer insights from specific audiences.

Nickelodeon, for instance, unleashes kids aged 8-12 into a design lab, with instructions to create the “ideal TVE experience.” That effort identified the graphical icon of the lock and the key as the biggest barriers. “They think they have to do something to unlock it, like with a game."

(This article was updated on to correct the number of Nickelodeon fans that downloaded the app and how many minutes viewers logged on the ESPN app for the Clemson-Alabama football game.)