TV Everywhere Becomes More Popular
TV EVERYWHERE BECOMES MORE POPULAR
With each passing month, more and more of us are looking into TV Everywhere. As Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and other online videos streaming services make inroads into the traditional pay TV markets, cable and satellite TV providers have tried to recapture lost market share by making their services available on mobile devices.
ESPN launched the first mobile streaming application in 2005 with ESPN360, for streaming of live or on demand sports on its networks. It was restricted, though, to customers of ISPs with ESPN contracts. The structure of the system closely resembled the standard business model of existing cable system operators. EPIX, a premium movie channel package, soon followed with its own mobile streaming service. The NFL Network used the mobile app to restrict access to certain premium services with Thursday Night Football.
It took a few years before pay TV providers began providing streaming services that were not dedicated to particular channels. In 2009, Time Warner Cable outlined a set of principles it called TV Everywhere. Under this concept, subscribers could stream live and on-demand online video by verifying their identities through their pay TV accounts. In the summer of 2009, TWC and Comcast conducted market trials of the concept, and Turner Broadcasting offered access to TBS and TNT for the trials. In December 2009, Comcast launched an official public beta test of of its XFinity Fancast streaming portal for all of its “double play” subscribers-customers of both its TV and internet services. Other pay TV providers soon followed with their own mobile streaming services.
Dish Network shook up the industry in January 2013 with its Hopper with Sling, an advanced whole home HD DVR. A viewer could transfer (‘sling’) video content from an iOS or Android device to the Hopper, or vice versa, and the Hopper app would download recordings directly into these devices for offline viewing. The viewer could watch live live or recorded content online, or via a free Dish Anywhere app. With the Dish Explorer app, a viewer could control the Hopper remotely through the mobile device. No other pay TV provider had anything like the Hopper.
Mobile streaming of subscription TV met resistance from broadcasters and media activists. Broadcasters were concerned that it would harm advertising revenue, and that mobile viewing could not be monitored accurately for Nielsen ratings. Some media activists complained that TV Everywhere apps would undermine online TV by tying it to traditional corporate “oligarchic” providers, harming competitors that supply content through the internet alone. Other activists complained that the TV Everywhere apps were supported by ads. Richard Greenfield, an analyst for a major equity trading firm, used examples from TNT and FX to make the case that the ads were excessive. A particular TNT show, The Last Ship, carried twenty minutes of ads in forty-five minutes of programming, and the ads can’t be skipped.
Still, for all of the obstacles and the occasional failings of TV Everywhere apps, they’re becoming more popular with each passing month. Watching TV on your schedule instead of the network’s schedule is becoming the norm, and pay TV providers are learning to adapt to your interest in watching your shows when and where you want to. Before long, providers and broadcasters will have ironed out the few remaining wrinkles in the system. Mobile online streaming will be the standard way we view video, and passively watching TV at home, on a network schedule, will seem weird to us.
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