NAB 2016: TV Everywhere Isn’t Going Anywhere, Panelists Say

Las Vegas — John Bishop, CTO for Akamai Technologies’ media business, looks at how people are ingesting content, and sees a sea change happening. And a big part of that is TV Everywhere.

Giving consumers the option to access their pay TV content anywhere, on any device, at any time, has become an expectation, not just a nice thing to have, Bishop and other panelists agreed at the NAB Show presentation “TV Everywhere: The Multiscreen Challenge.” And this relatively new way of ingesting content isn’t without its drawbacks.

“I think the Olympics [this summer in Rio] is going to be a massive event for [TV Everywhere],” Bishop said.  “I think a lot of people are going to be really unproductive at work. People are going to be watching Usain Bolt running at work at 3:30 ET.”

The amount of work hours lost due to big sporting events and TV Everywhere can’t be understated: a new report from Adobe found that 17% of adult pay TV subscribers use their provider's TV Everywhere app, and 12% engage with the TV Everywhere apps provided by TV networks. And with nearly 50% of young adults not subscribing to legacy pay TV services, making TV Everywhere available isn’t just important, it’s crucial, according to Jeremy Helfand, VP of video solutions for Adobe.

“Consumers now have an expectation to watch what they want on any screen,” he said. And, almost like a mantra, he said those delivering TV Everywhere services need to keep three things in mind: fragmentation, monetization and personalization. And all three are especially important for advertisers, he said.

“For advertising to be most effective, there are technological challenges that must be overcome,” he said, pointing to the sheer number of devices and platforms that consumers can access their TV Everywhere services from. “Advertising should be multichannel, the way content is multichannel.”

Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst for nScreenMedia, said things like dynamic ad insertion and targeted advertising are top priorities for those in the TV Everywhere market today, because “If the ad’s not relevant, consumers hate it.”

Barry Tishgart, VP of Comcast Wholesale — which launched its theVideoPlatform, broadcast and digital video multiscreen distribution service at NAB — added that TV Everywhere companies need to approach each global region differently. Unlike in the U.S., where at-home pay TV is prevalent, some countries are digital only and mobile first. “In some parts of the world, multiscreen viewing surpasses set-top viewing,” he said.

Adobe’s Helfand said that, wherever in the world TV Everywhere services are being delivered, the industry as a whole can at least give itself a small pat on the back. “Major events like the Olympics are milestones for TV Everywhere, and the expectations from consumers are [well known].”

But Akamai’s Bishop said there’s no time for the industry to rest on its laurels. It’s made huge progress, but there’s more work to be done, he said. “We as a digital video industry changed the TV experience, and in the last year we’ve caught up in terms of resolution, frame rates and bit rates,” he said. “I think three years from now, we’ll look back and say ‘Wow, TV was an inferior experience.”

Himesh Bhise, CEO of Synacor, seconded that: “We’re approaching a more seamless experience, but the technology just isn’t there yet.”