TV Everywhere’s Success Hinges on Simplicity: Panel

NEW YORK — For consumer adoption of TV Everywhere services to reach the next level, operators and programmers would do well to adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Although other elements, such as broader access to content and personalization, will also help to drive up usage, panelists at the TV of Tomorrow Show here last Wednesday (Dec. 11) agreed that simplicity rises to the top in terms of importance.

While authentication is critical because it ensures only customers who have the rights to TV Everywhere fare can access it, the technical process should be more automated and occur behind the scenes, panelists agreed.

“Ultimately, we need to remove the consumer from the authentication process,” Jeremy Helfand, vice president of video solutions at Adobe, said.

“Authentication isn’t necessarily the problem,” Matt Strauss, Comcast’s senior vice president and general manager of video services, said. “We have to make it easier.”

Companies such as Comcast and Adobe have solved part of this issue using a feature that automatically authenticates customers when they are accessing TV Everywhere content via a PC on the home network. Comcast has previously said it is working toward extending this password- free feature, called Home Pass, to other platforms, including iOS and Android devices. Comcast has also introduced Facebook Connect, which lets customers link their accounts to their Facebook accounts.

But Strauss acknowledged that features like HomePass will have some challenges as operators and programmers develop and launch features tailored for individual customers within the household. “If I want to personalize that experience, I need to know who you are,” he said.

Helfand, to launch the panel, presented a TV Everywhere “mandate” that includes a bigger focus on not just simplicity, but also on content ubiquity, content discovery and content personalization.

On the content side, TV Everywhere is still a fragmented mess, panelists said. Some programmers allow live TV feeds to be streamed in the home, while others allow out-of-home access, and still others don’t allow access to any live TV feeds at all. The amount of TV Everywhere content offered on demand also varies by programmer and by operator. Although the industry is chipping away at it, TV Everywhere content is far away from reaching a goal of ubiquity.