Multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) subscribers are not rushing out to take advantage of TV Everywhere, says a study by GfK Media and reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to the study, only 17% of cable or satellite subscribers have watched programming from their MVPDs online using TV Everywhere, even though they have access to the service. This, four years after its launch and despite a serious push by MVPDs.
GfK says the entire effort has been plagued by delays in launch as a result of difficult rights negotiations between various entertainment companies and pay TV operators – cable, satellite and phone companies.
One major obstacle, the 1000-person study showed, is the requirement for people to sign in with their cable account details to prove that they are paying video subscribers. 70% of pay TV subscribers who have ever watched programming online said they would be deterred from watching Internet TV content if it required them to sign in with their cable account credentials.
TV Everywhere began as a joint push from Time Warner and Comcast as the industry’s response to the threat of cord cutting posed by the rising tide of cheap online video alternatives. The availability of content varies with channel and pay TV provider. As a result of a deal struck between Comcast and Disney last year, for instance, Comcast customers can watch ESPN live outside the home on tablets or mobile phones over the Internet. But other deals have been far more limited in scope.
One of the main issues that has been separating entertainment companies and pay TV providers is the question of which will deal directly with consumers, traditionally the province of providers. While providers like Comcast have made a big push to make content available online through their own website or apps – in Comcast’s case, Xfinity — channels like ESPN, Time Warner’s HBO and CNN have their own individual apps and websites with TV programming content. Those give consumers a direct relationship with channels they haven’t traditionally had.
The GfK study shows that 37% of folks who have ever viewed TV online watched the content through a TV network’s app or website, while only 30% of those surveyed reported watching through a cable operator or other distributor’s online portals. That could partly be because TV watchers associate what they’re watching more with a TV channel than with their cable provider. But cable executives believe eventually customers will choose their portals so they can find everything in one place—without sifting through a number of apps.
One bright spot for distributors is that about a quarter of respondents said that they are more likely to keep their existing providers’ services as a result of their TV everywhere products. For the vast majority of those surveyed, however, it still hasn’t made a difference in how they view their cable, satellite or phone company.
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s all a matter of promotion. Some cable networks are pushing their online apps in almost every commercial break, and during programming in some cases. We know MVPDs are pushing them as well, but just not hard enough. Perhaps incentives like contests or sweepstakes. TV Everywhere does allow new advertising opportunities and helps keep subscribers, so it is in their best interest.