OnScreen Summit: TV Everywhere Not Quite There

New York - The TV Everywhere concept is solid, said panelists at the "Gadget Nation: New Tech for a New Generation of TV Viewers" session, but the execution so far is all over the map. Asked by moderator Todd Spangler to grade the mobile viewing initiative, 1-10, the marks ranged from a 2 to a 6, and averaged out to a 4.

"One of the biggest challenges [for users] is, where is it, how do I get it?" said John Pascarelli, executive vice president of operations at Mediacom, singling out Netflix and iTunes for an intuitive interface.

Renee Plato, senior vice president of digital distribution, Univision Communications, simply said the process for users is "wack."

The panelists are also wrestling with increased audience fragmentation, and the challenge of making their content stick amidst the myriad choices available to users. "There's way more fragmentation and way more distraction and it's way more difficult for advertisers to hold onto eyeballs," said Peter Low, president and CEO, Ensequence.

Univision aims to stand out for users on the go with its UVideos initiative, which Plato described as "our TV Everywhere offering," with social media integrated into the content mix.

Such products may not crank out substantial revenue, but are the cost of doing business for media entities, she said. "We're doing it as a value add and to strengthen the value of the product we offer our MVPD partners," said Plato.

Failing to connect with the iPad/smartphone crowd is to miss out on an increasing chunk of the viewing public, agreed the panelists. "The living room on the go is the new reality," said Jeremy Helfand, vice president of video monetization at Adobe.

The challenges of content storage, added Jeremy Morrison, vice president, sales engineering at Avail-TVN, are increasingly an issue for operators. "We see it evolving to more cloud-based storage," he said.

The challenges of improving users' access to TV Everywhere, including getting distributors to agree on a standard authentication gateway, may be surmountable. While Canoe Ventures shuttered its interactive TV business earlier this year, Low said its technology platform worked -- for cable, satellite, telco, mobile and connected TV alike. "There is a way to pull all this together," Low said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.