Content Creators Need To Be Smart To Succeed With TV Everywhere

The rush of TV Everywhere continues to grow at a rapid pace, leaving some networks and content creators scrambling to get their products onto as many devices as possible.

However, many successful end users in the TV Everywhere market are quick to warn that rushing in could prove to be a costly mistake. When it comes to video, just making one’s content available is not enough. If the offering is not high-quality, it can have a terribly negative impact on the customer’s experience, not to mention a disastrous effect on the company’s bottom line.

“The biggest challenge we can’t overlook here is making money,” Joe Inzerillo, SVP for multimedia and distribution, MLB Advanced Media, said to a smattering of laughs at Thursday’s “TV in a Multiplatform World” event presented by Multichannel News, B&C, and TV Technology. “Obviously, we all want to get our content to our fans — in our case, literal fans of the sport — but there’s two sides to it: there’s the revenue side and the cost side.”

Other panelists concurred that finding a balance between the two is crucial to success in the TV Everywhere world.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” said Richard Buchanan, VP/GM, Content Services, Comcast Media Center. “You really have to have a clear idea of your business objectives and how you want to achieve those and what are the tools and targets to get you there.”

Inzerillo insisted that those looking to invest in TV Everywhere platforms maintain a realistic perspective on what the services and software can provide.

“As far as the whole cost structure and planning goes, the one suggestion I have is that people stop believing in unicorns,” he said. “There’s a lot of people out there that keep thinking that unicorns exist, so every trend that you go with is based on this assumption that a lot of folks haven’t done the research to break it down.

“For example, the cloud,” he continued. “The cloud is awesome, and it’s going to solve all of our problems. The cloud is a unicorn. The cloud is a tool. It’s a great tool, and it works really, really good for storage capacity and that whole idea of not having to build for 100% and being able to build for 90% and using the cloud when you need to get that extra 10%. But we’ve seen a lot of folks when they put themselves under water from a cost-structure standpoint, because they don’t understand the fundamental economics. Somebody in the cloud is buying servers that have disk in them, and, when you rent space, you are paying for some part of the disk. So to believe that there’s this unicorn that makes free disks some place gets you in a situation where you don’t understand the cost model. There are no free lunches here. Someone, somewhere is incurring the costs.”

In building a highly effective TV Everywhere experience, Turner Sports VP of New Products Michael Adamson says it’s important to focus on the consumer and not the device.

“[TV Everywhere] is incredibly urgent,” he added, “especially in the content area of sports because most sports happen on evenings and weekends, which means we are competing with things like eating and socializing or both at the same time. It’s forcing behavioral changes. The technology is allowing for those behavioral changes to allow people to still interact with the content.”

Adamson is at the forefront of Turner’s March Madness Live app, which sets a benchmark for high-quality sports experiences in the TV Everywhere market. In its second year, Turner began requiring viewers to authenticate and/or pay a small subscription fee in order to access the live content. Adamson feels that Turner should have started charging fees from the beginning.

“I actually wish that the TV Everywhere capabilities had moved a year faster,” he said. “To nobody’s surprise, moving from a completely free-access model to an authenticated and retail model only is going to have an impact, and it’s not going to be a growth impact.

“I wish we could have done it the year before,” he continued. “HBO Go is a perfect example of how, when there isn’t a model present, you can create one so long as the value of the content still holds true. Viewers jump in and say, This is great. You give them more access, you give them more value.”