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TV Everywhere: Hurry Up or Wait?

3/05/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Time Warner Inc. chairman
and CEO Jeff Bewkes urged distributors
and content providers alike to
speed up adoption of TV Everywherelike
services, or suffer the consequences
in declining subscriber rolls.

Bewkes, speaking at the Deutsche
Bank Media & Telecom conference in
Palm Beach, Fla., last Tuesday (Feb. 28),
said his company has embraced the technology
across the board and urged others
to follow suit.

Bewkes was one of the pioneers of the
TV Everywhere concept and said that
even more content must find its way online
to excite consumers. He noted that
Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System
networks already offer more than
1,000 hours of authenticated content online,
and its Home Box Office premium
channel, through its HBO Go authenticated
service, offers more than 1,600 hours.

Bewkes called for all major TV networks
to make their content available
through TV Everywhere, adding that old
fears that subscription video on demand
would overwhelm the TV business have
proven to be unfounded.

“We have not waited to have our affiliate
agreements expire and roll over
in order to make authenticated, powerful
versions of our networks available to
consumers,” Bewkes continued. “The best
way to get paid for TV Everywhere is to offer
it to your viewers.”

While Bewkes has been TV Everywhere’s
chief cheerleader for years, Viacom
CEO Philippe Dauman said later in
the conference that there are still issues
to work out.

“It’s been a slow process, mostly because
there have been issues with technical
capabilities on the part of many
distributors,” Dauman said, adding that
Viacom has authentication deals with
Verizon Communications and Cablevision
Systems, and he expects more deals
to happen in the future.

But the relationship wasn’t always so
rosy. Last June, Viacom sued Cablevision
for including live programming from its networks on the
MSO’s iPad app, reaching a settlement in August. Viacom
also sued Time Warner Cable for streaming its networks live
over its iPad app, and though the two agreed to a standstill
agreement in June, Viacom’s networks are still not available
on the TWC iPad app.

“I think, for the kind of full, robust capabilities in a majority
of the distribution universe to occur, it’s going to be a
two-to-three-year process,” Dauman said, adding the slowdown
is more due to issues surrounding technology and
marketing plans from various distributors rather than a reluctance
from content providers. But the Viacom chief said
TV Everywhere is good for both the content and distribution
industries.

“Anytime you can get more avenues to distribute your
content, it’s ultimately an incremental opportunity,”
Dauman said. “You’re seeing healthy competitive pressure
coming from the digital side. To the extent that accelerates
some of the traditional distributors and what they’re doing,
that’s only good for content companies.”

Separately, Dauman didn’t offer any new insight into
Nickelodeon’s ratings shortfall in the past several months
— which Viacom attributed to faulty Nielsen ratings measurement.
Nielsen has stood by its data, and denied that it
is at fault for the ratings decline.

“We’re attacking [the ratings decline] by continuing to
invest in programming and we’ll tackle that as the Nielsen
sampling evolves over time,” Dauman said. “We don’t like
it, but we’ll deal with it, and it will improve.”

September