Is TV Everywhere for Everyone?

Inplace #2

ADOTAS – HBO’s famous tagline, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO,” can easily be adopted by any number of video content producers and distributors today. Substitute “HBO” for Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, VEVO or simply “video” and you can pretty easily summarize the shift happening today.

Sure, TV is still the biggest medium, and where people most frequently watch video content, but with more than 6 billion online video sessions each month (according to comScore), and mutli-screen and multi-platform distribution, the lines are quickly blurring. We can now consume our favorite shows in the home, at the office, on the road, or anywhere and everywhere there’s access to the web.

This brings us to the topic of the “TV Everywhere” experience, one of the first being the HBO Go app that launched this Spring for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. The app generated more than 3 million downloads, and is only available to current HBO cable subscribers who get access to all of their current shows and a library of programs on demand, wherever they have Internet access to stream the shows.

CNN recently launched live streaming video on and their mobile apps, also in a walled garden: anyone who wants to view CNN’s video streams must be authenticated as a cable subscriber from one of the participating carriers. For loyal CNN TV viewers, this gives them access to whatever screen they prefer, and cable companies don’t have to worry as much about the threat of “cord-cutting,” or subscribers who would potentially downgrade or stop their subscription, opting to consume content via free (ad supported) online sources.

A recent Experian “New Media Study” estimated that just 1% of U.S. consumers have cut the cable cord, which equals about 1.7 million people. Yet, 16%, or more than 22 million, were seriously considering doing the same.

With other apps and services like WatchESPN and the announcement from Fox last week on keeping their newest programs behind a similar authentication process for online viewing (and not making it immediately available through free streaming services like Hulu), things may change pretty quickly, giving consumers additional incentive to not cut the cord.

This shift could also mean that advertisers will have a unique opportunity to potentially surround those viewers, or segment and target them in even more ways – by device or screen, time of day, maybe even location. The more content producers or distributors that go this route, the greater the potential reach and opportunity.

However, if it’s too difficult to access (only viewable within the home, on limited devices, through select cable or satellite providers, limited content), there may not be enough scale for this to be a viable option or alternative means to effectively build reach against an audience.

Just as with many other things in today’s ever-evolving digital media landscape, this is still a pretty nascent space that will take time to grow and to see how consumers respond. So long as it does not restrict the access on sites like CNN or ESPN that consumers are accustomed to, and enhances the TV and online experience they currently have, it will definitely change viewing behaviors and advertising opportunities.

If we as consumers are already paying what we do for cable and Internet access, shouldn’t we expect more value as technology enables us to have an enhanced experience? And as marketers, shouldn’t we be able to leverage that to improve the ability to target and engage our audiences? The answer is yes — to both. Although it would be nice to pay a little less for my cable bill each month, maybe based on what I actually watch versus what I don’t, but that’s a whole other discussion!