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Turner: The First-Mover Advantage?

No ad-supported network programmer has pushed as hard on TV Everywhere as Turner Broadcasting System. With an evangelical
zeal, the company has struck authentication deals with each of the major pay TV distributors, with the notable exception
of Time Warner Cable. Coleman Breland, chief operating officer of Turner Network Sales, spoke last week with Multichannel
technology editor Todd Spangler.

MCN: For Turner, what’s the point of TV Everywhere?

Coleman Breland: Something has happened in the hands of consumers
that has never happened before. They are moving around
with devices they never had in the past. The shared customers we
have with our distributors have all these devices, and they want a
different experience.

From our point of view, it was just natural to address
the screens in consumers’ hands. That’s a
fundamental shift that the industry did not wrap
its head around years ago. We look at it and say, [TV
Everywhere] extends the consumer value equation
in a way that matters for them. The devices are already
there. What will make them satisfied to continue
to pay for a TV package? … We should all, as
an industry, embrace this — because consumers
will decide the fate of our industry.

MCN: So, at this point, is it working?

CB: Yes, we think it’s incredibly successful. We’ve
launched across multiple networks of ours, across
cable, satellite and telco affiliates. We are available
in about 77 million homes. We look at this
and say, “Wow, the adoption of this was faster
than VOD, maybe even DVR.”

I think what’s really helped in the last six
months, we’ve seen an extra resurgence taking
place here because you have greater participation
across the industry — for example, the Comcast-
Disney/ESPN deal [see “Comcast’s Mega-Dealmakers,”
April 16, 2012]. But you need the
industry, and you need companies, to do the right
thing. Everybody doesn’t get into a room and figure
it out. I think that wouldn’t make the antitrust attorneys happy.
But there needs to be a consistent message, so people understand
how to watch it. That will help dramatically.

MCN: But not all programmers are on board, and TV Everywhere
isn’t ubiquitously available. Isn’t there consumer confusion, or
frustration, that they can’t access everything they want?

CB: Speaking as a consumer, yes, I think so. That’s the consistency
I was talking about. That’s a hurdle the industry is going to have to
get over to really get to the point where it becomes second nature.
You want to support the ecosystem and the way it works. I’ve never
looked at TV Everywhere as controlling content. It’s about liberating
content. … We think it’s moving fast. I will personally like it even
better when that consistency is there, and we can market it for our
brands. The challenge is for the distributors to market it.

We’re north of 500 hours per month in TV Everywhere content.
As we gain more content, we want it out there. There’s great value
in being first, because we want to be first in consumers’ minds. I
think patterns of behavior start, and I think it’s very important for
the up-and-coming demographics.

MCN: Do you charge for TV Everywhere rights?

CB: We don’t have a discrete charge for TV Everywhere
… [but] it doesn’t come without cost. If you
want rights, you have to negotiate that. You have
to talk to studios. The money comes in a couple of
ways. For us, look, this is a critical component of
what we have to do to be responsible. But how you
get paid, the first thing is, you keep getting paid
for the monthly bill. Preserve what’s already there.

These rights don’t come cheap. To get the windows
we want, we have to pay more to do that.
I need money back in ads. We’re going to insert
ads dynamically in online video the day after air.
That benefits the whole ecosystem.

MCN: Are you comfortable ad measurement
will be there quickly enough?

CB: One thing that is paramount is ad measurement.
I want it to be there. That concerns me.
Nielsen has been delivering C3 viewing [which
counts viewing within three days of broadcast toward
overall TV ratings] for PCs and laptops, and
mobile phones and tablets will be in the future. If
we proceed that way, then the measurement is going
to have to keep up. Because what you don’t want to do is … create
a scenario where you let consumers watch unmonetizable content.

Nielsen’s commitment is critical for TV Everywhere, because you will
run into programming groups that will say, “we’re not there until the
measurement is there” — then you’re in a chicken-and-egg situation.

MCN: There have been approaches like Slingbox that do an endaround
on TV Everywhere. Won’t some pay TV operators feel compelled
to deliver a service like that, without negotiating for explicit
out-of-home rights?

CB: I look at TV Everywhere as dimensionally more than just slinging
content. It’s on-demand content. To me it’s a little bit of a different
equation … My DVR functions only if I tell it what to do.