Multichannel News, Broadcast & Cable and TV Technology recently presented a day-long set of sessions entitled TV Everywhere: The Time is Now.
According to the assembled iTV experts the time is indeed now but participants would be wise to listen to their experiences and avoid key pitfalls. Panelists emphasized rapid learning from deploying TV Everywhere services as they gathered data from usage, focus groups and customers.
8 Learnings from the Tech and UI Experts
1. Don't Go for an A+: It's way too expensive to achieve 100% distribution for your viewers given the multiplicity of devices. Better to hit critical mass (95%) by targeting the three big players - Apple, Android and Microsoft. Perhaps it was the presence of Microsoft on the panel but their XBox platform was typically mentioned in the same breadth with the big two.
2. TV Everywhere Apps Reduce Churn: While HBO's Kessler didn't use the dreaded churn word, instead talking about extending the customer life cycle, both he and a number of MSOs operators noted research findings that customers indeed valued their subscriptions more highly with TV Everywhere capabilities. Kessler's parent company Time Warner even noted the positive impact of HBO Go on its recent earnings call.
3. Unifying the Experience: Creating a unified consumer experience across multiple devices is a key goal shared by many of the panelists. Unified however does not mean identical as each platform and device has unique sets of features. But customers should recognize as familiar the TV Everywhere experience from an operator or programmer regardless of the device.
4. Video Quality Must Match Expectations: That means you can cut yourself some slack on the quality of mobile video as it doesn't have to be as good as your customers see on the big screen. But don't cut yourself too much slack as viewers will call you out on blurred action, particularly for sports.
5. Speed Trumps Quality: Viewers would rather see video sooner at a lower quality and then have it "snap" into higher definition (bandwidth willing) than have longer buffer times (see HBO Go experience).
6. Content Discovery a Big Challenge: Now that viewers can access content most anytime from many different devices, the already challenging discovery issue becomes that much more problematic. Sorry but no big tips on tackling that challenge.
7. It’s Only Going to Get More Complicated: So MLB's Inzerillo emphasized the importance of thinking about TV Everywhere as an ongoing not one-time investment.
8. The Money Hunt: No surprise but a divergence of opinions here on how to monetize in terms of advertising. Google argued for automated ad exchanges while FreeWheel suggested a more customized approach. Regardless, Rentrak underscored the overall opportunity, particularly given the dramatic shift to non-movie usage which is more conducive to advertising.
Will Keller advises executives on interactive television marketing and t-commerce strategy and execution. For more iTV insights, subscribe to Inside the Screen, his monthly summary of the latest iTV trends and strategies.