TV Everywhere is TV, and eventually it will be everywhere.

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

The movement towards TV Everywhere is currently being seen as a complementary service; a way for cable channels to give viewers content on-demand without cannibalizing their cable revenues. The subscriber to any given cable company is required to prove that they are a subscriber (by authenticating with cable-company-sanctioned credentials) in order to watch the content from the content-creators.

I would argue that this is firstly, a good thing, and secondly a foregone conclusion. At some point, near or far, all content will need to be provided in this way, in a far more unified way, and the ‘cable’ companies will simply become aggregators of content packages who facilitate the bundling of various channels together and the authentication to these packages. The physical cable, or satellite, are already redundant and the various means of access to the content will only expand and adapt slightly to the advantages of each respective medium. This redundancy will take some time to be manifest in the real-world in such a way that the cable is no longer *utilized*, however this is only a matter of economics, and user-decisions that will take 1-2 years of ‘contract’ period to cycle out, once the majority of content is available in ‘TV Everywhere’ format of some kind.

Furthermore, the role of the ‘cable company’ as curator and package seller of these types of content will be more like a tourism operator selling package tours, in that most package tours could also be purchased as individual components, however they just work out more expensive that way. The bulk purchasing discount of the ‘cable companies’ will be the differentiator that allows this to happen, although some exclusivity deals around content will no doubt come into play in early days, and possibly remain a factor.

The important point about all this is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing for anyone. The cable companies will still be packaging and (re) selling content, the internet companies will still be providing bandwidth (in increasing amounts), and the consumer will have better access to the content they want, on demand, in more and more flexible ways. So if we fast-forward a little bit into the future, this is a model that will ultimately replace the physical cable altogether, but also has the potential to disrupt and democratize the cable industry to the point where the barrier to entry is far lower (i.e. no dedicated cable network required), innovation can and will happen faster, and it will only be high-priced licensing deals that will keep content exclusive or semi-exclusive to certain providers over others…

Like many other changes in a convergent media world, the user-experience is going to become the currency by which viewers are bought. This experience will entail many things beyond just the interface. Some of the factors will be:
-Mixture of programming (the licensing available)
-Ease of discovery (including social and algorithmic)
-Compatibility and hardware factors (integration with set-top boxes, game consoles, mobile and web apps, etc)
-Speed and reliability (content delivery)

The potential to develop new types of content and experiences is also vast. As the multi-screen experience becomes more normal, the content getting piped to each of these screens also becomes more customized. While a user on a mobile or tablet may require/want location-specific features, those on a television will not. While the user might want a *different* experience on their tablet when they are sitting in front of a television (i.e. complementary, informational content), when they are viewing remotely they may want a mixture of these, or just the standard TV experience. These need to be made flexible and the user needs to be empowered to make the choice about how, when, and what the content will be that they consume.

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