A new campaign from Turner Broadcasting via WPP’s Grey Group aims to educate viewers about TV Everywhere, the cable industry’s long promise of online television. The concept calls for episodes of television shows to be streamed online free, but only for folks who already have a current cable subscription.
The campaign “is to educate viewers about the value they can unlock,” Steve Koonin, Turner Entertainment Networks President, told the NY Times. “Consumers have bought tens of millions of iPhones and iPads. Our vision is that TV Everywhere kind of becomes the consumer-enabling technology that allows them to unlock the potential of those devices.”
In a series of spots that began appearing 9/12 on TNT and TBS, Turner stars like Conan O’Brien are explaining the concept of TV Everywhere. The campaign encourages people to download TBS and TNT apps on their phones and tablets to start watching television episodes online and on demand. The apps require users to log in, which will confirm that they are paying subscribers to a participating cable or satellite company.
The log-in process has taken a long time to put in place, but most of the major companies are now participating: DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-verse. The biggest MSO missing from the list is Time Warner Cable, which is promoting its own app that allows streaming of some channels. Time Warner Cable has also not supported HBO GO, already in use by millions since its introduction early this year.
Comcast and Time Warner signed a long-term deal in February that provides Comcast digital cable customers with access to content from Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System networks including TNT, TBS, CNN, HLN, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
Turner’s new campaign includes both humorous instances of people watching shows on phones and tablets and tutorials about how to do so. In one spot, O’Brien, whose talk show is on TBS, comes trudging onto his late-night stage for a promotional shoot in a suit of iPads, iPhones and BlackBerrys — the joke being that someone was confused about the purpose of the shoot.
“Watch any device on Conan,” the director says. A narrator then explains more accurately: “Now watch Conan and all your favorite TBS shows wherever, whenever you want.” Not all shows will be available—due to rights issues, etc.
The cast of TNT’s “Leverage” stars in another spot, taking turns singing lines from the Richard Marx song “I’ll Be Right Here Waiting for You.” Television episodes, viewers are told, are waiting for them anytime on the Web.
Some of the spots will be shown during Turner’s baseball playoff broadcasts, which usually attract a big audience. The campaign also includes a longer spot, to be posted on YouTube, which details how to download the apps and log in to a participating cable or satellite company. It is not always easy at first; the spot advises people to have their cable bill handy for their account number. It will also air on TBS or TNT when they have long-form opportunities, the story said.
The online streams of its TV episodes include the same commercials as the main signal, and Nielsen includes the online streams in its C3 commercial ratings: live plus three days of playback.
RBR-TVBR observation: This will give cable a big leg up because of the extra viewing counted. Broadcast can still claim that Mobile DTV will be available in 2/3 of households in 2012, but let’s face it, more consumers will be viewing TV programming with their smartphone devices already in hand. Local broadcast TV needs to work a way to get its live signals onto these to compete more effectively down the road. Currently, broadcast can only offer up its live and local programming onto smartphones because of rights issues—it’s still a free signal, so the networks and syndicators won’t make money on it (right now, networks like FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS are offering full episodes of shows online, but not live). When broadcasters find a way to charge for 24/7 smartphone viewing, it will even out the scales.