Under the Hood of TV Everywhere

Five years into its deployment, the TV everywhere experience remains far from perfect.

On top of a new industry-wide marketing campaign, cable operators are smoothing out the kinks in the authentication process and making strides in settling distribution rights that will secure all the live and on-demand content that subscribers can receive on any device, anywhere.

While still a disjointed product overall in terms of design, most agree that TV everywhere is steadily improving. That’s due in no small way to the underlying technologies that allow for the delivery of TVE services to tablets, smartphones, browsers, gaming consoles and specialized streaming devices.

Those advancements increasingly include in-home auto-authentication features that ease the pathways to the content, leading to some positive results. While still nowhere near the popularity of Netflix, the over-the-top video service that played a big part in spurring the industry’s TVE efforts into action, the total amount of TVE authentication grew a remarkable 246% in the first quarter of 2014 versus the year-ago quarter, according to Adobe’s latest U.S. Digital Video Benchmark report.

But TVE is also becoming increasingly complicated, as more devices and formats enter the fray and content libraries expand. While Web browsers and iOS- and Android-powered gadgets still dominate authenticated video usage at the device level, operators and programmers will need to extend support to more platforms. Sales of Roku devices and the Google Chromecast remain strong, and newcomers, such as the Amazon Fire TV, are gaining consumer traction.

Another complicating factor on the horizon: Consumers demanding 4K video, the most of which will likely be delivered on an on-demand basis early on, either through the set-top box or Ultra HD-capable, Internet protocolconnected devices.

At the same time, the industry is eager to get a return on its TVE investments by inserting fresh (and possibly targeted) ads into these authenticated streams on the fly.

The overarching need to “get this right” has evolved and coalesced into a technology ecosystem that spans authentication, security, multiscreen publishing and advertising, encoding and packaging, as well as design and systems integration.

The desire to simplify that ecosystem has also spawned formal integration pacts, including thePlatform’s separate deals with Adobe and Verizon Digital Media Services. Last week, Anvato launched a “turnkey” TVE system called “Watch” that assembles those pieces into one cohesive system it is now pitching to pay TV providers.

At right is a representative view of those key TVE technology components and the suppliers playing important roles in their execution.

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