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TV Everywhere Faces Challenges Such as Ease of Use, Alternatives
‘It has to get better, and it will,' says the Synacor executive behind the HBO Go app, speaking at the Next TV Summit.
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"I really think 2013 is the year for TVE," said Michael Bishara, Synacor's vice president and general manager for TV Everywhere, speaking at today's Next TV Summit in New York City. Bishara knows a little about making TV Everywhere successful, as he was the prime driver for HBO Go, the most successful TV Everywhere launch so far, in his former role as a senior vice president at HBO.

Speaking on a panel devoted to disruption, innovation, and invention in TV Everywhere, Bishara outlined the problems that TVE faces.

"The education process needs to ramp up, and it will," said Bishara. Awareness is the primary problem currently: few viewers know what TV Everywhere is, what it offers, or how to access it.

Broadcast rights are currently too complicated, Bishara said, and consumers don't understand why they can't reach all the content they want on all their devices at any time. Monetizing those views is another hurdle.

TV Everywhere isn't the only streaming game in town, and Bishara noted that there are compelling over-the-top alternatives that are making inroads with consumers.

One major obstacle is that TV Everywhere is simply too difficult for most viewers, and that comes down to the roadblock of authentication. The pleasure of standard television, Bishara said, is that it's passive: turn it on and lean back. Needing to give credentials up front is counter to the idea of fun, simple entertainment. Auto-authentication will help, he said, as will options for signing on with a social network account.

Michael BisharaThe entire streaming video experience needs to be simplified, Bishara said. The consumer currently has to juggle too many devices and apps. What viewers need is one central place where they can reach their content on any device.

Coming out of the HBO environment, Bishara said he thought TV Everywhere would be farther along. But he's starting to see what he calls a profound expansion.

When companies create TV-like experiences that work across devices, they'll draw more viewers, Bishara said. He gave the example of a viewer being able to search for content on a tablet, but then watch that content on a TV.

"It has to get better, and it will," Bishara stated. The onus now, he said, is to make TV Everywhere simple and cost-effective.

Also speaking on the panel, John Heller, co-CEO for video ad management company FreeWheel, said that business rules and lagging technology were slowing TV Everywhere adoption. The longer it takes, he said, the greater the chance that viewers will go elsewhere for their streamed content.

Going too slow is worse than going too fast, Heller said. Be pragmatic and go faster, he urged the audience.