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Post-game Review of the Sports Entertainment Summit: TV Everywhere (Part 2)

Post-game Review of the Sports Entertainment Summit: TV Everywhere (Part 2)

In my last post, I set the stage for the current TV Everywhere climate. In this post, I'll "get down to brass tacks" when assessing conversion (and success) in the TV Everywhere sphere. If we look at the TV Everywhere process, we can separate it into discrete workflow steps: 1) Content Discovery; 2) Selecting a Provider; 3) Authentication & Authorization.

Content Discovery
TV Everywhere content could be partitioned separately within a Web portal or mobile application; delivered as a standalone Web portal or mobile application; mix-and-matched with non-TV Everywhere video content. The quantity of content, the availability of non-TV Everywhere video content, the availability of non-video content, and the platform (e.g., desktop vs. mobile vs. television), will affect how programmers should present TV Everywhere video content to their audience.

Programmers should be clear about which content users have access to, when content is available and how content can be accessed. This information should be provided explicitly. Ideally, programmers can customize the list of available content based on contextual information about the consumer (e.g., device, subscription or TV rating information that affects authorization and geography). 

Selecting a Provider
While the top ten pay TV providers (cable, DBS, phone/fiber) represent a majority (~90MM) of subscribers, they represent a small minority of the total count of national and regional MVPDs.

The TV Everywhere process should:

  • Provide both visuals and text to ensure the consumer recognizes their pay television provider.
  • Intelligently prioritize the options based on geography (i.e., only show pay television providers available in the consumer's physical location), previous selection (i.e., consumers change pay television providers infrequently), or IP (i.e., if the pay television provider is also the Internet provider).

Authentication & Authorization
One of the most challenging steps is seemingly the most straightforward: requesting the consumer to enter a username and password. These credentials typically represent the email and password associated with their pay television provider. However, these credentials are ones the consumer may not have created or may not use on a regular basis.

Even if the credentials are known, the credentials are shared within a single household. Members of the same household – parents, children, friends, roommates – may not want to share the common credentials (as they are often associated with the pay television provider account a la "admin" credentials), or the head of household may wish to limit which content is authorized (e.g., parents may want to restrict content based on TV rating).

The TV Everywhere authentication and authorization experience should:

  • Simplify the authentication process to support commonly used social network credentials, e.g., Facebook, Twitter.
  • Expand the authentication process to support not just a household but the individual members of the household; Netflix members will understand this frustration prior to the recent introduction of profiles.
  • Facilitate measurement between the programmer and their associated pay television providers. Since the authentication and authorization process often requires browser redirects and/or cross-domain interaction (e.g., iframe), both parties should provide mechanisms to share data for holistic measurement of the process.

Ideally, consumers would be auto-authenticated and auto-authorized for in-home experiences if their pay television provider were also the Internet provider. As this is a common scenario for consumers that subscribe to a cable TV provider, the entire end-to-end workflow – including filtering available content – could be handled with minimal user interaction, reducing the room for error and increasing conversion.

Moving to Mobile
One of the last issues we discussed on the Variety Sports Entertainment Summit panel was the impact of wireless. In retrospect, the right way to think about wireless is to think about it as mobile. Similar to my previous comments on mobile, TV Everywhere is – as its name suggests – about providing access to digital video content not just logically everywhere, i.e., a programmer's website, but physically everywhere. Video consumption is not constrained to the desktop; video consumption must be considered in context of the consumer, whether they are in the office, at home (garage, lanai, backyard, upstairs, basement) or on the road (vacation, work trip, commute).

The mobile lifestyle requires:

  • Supporting cross-device and cross-platform pause-and-resume playback
  • Providing both linear and VOD programming
  • Extending the consumer video experience to the very common scenario of offline usage, i.e., enabling consumers to save content to their smartphone or tablet and view it without access to an Internet connection (on a plane, at the gym, on their commute via bus/train/ferry) or when they are traveling (i.e., outside the video streaming geographic restrictions)

TV Everywhere is still in its infancy; its growth and success have still a long digital road ahead. While technology continues to advance, innovation must be aligned with business strategy that truly commits to delivering television everywhere to every consumer and every device.