Fox Networks: Behind TV Everywhere's Slow Consumer Rollout
While Netflix gobbles up new markets and Sling TV gets tons of coverage, TV Everywhere is slowly limping along outside of public view. Authentication has been a hurdle, and viewers find little content to watch even once they're authenticated. Why can't the big pay TV companies make TVE happen faster?
To answer that question, Sherry Brennan, senior vice president of distribution at Fox Networks, sat down for an interview an the recent Streaming Media West conference in sunny Huntington Beach, California. Securing rights is slow business, she explained.
"it’s really sad nobody has a magic wand because we could just wave it and it would be there, it would be done," Brennan said. "Everyone would have access. The reality is that it’s complicated. It’s not technically that easy to pull off. The integrations are MVPD by MVPD, programmer by programmer, device by device…In fairness to all of us who’ve been working on this for a long time, yes, it’s taking longer than any of us would like. However, I do think we’ve gotten to a pretty critical mass this year."
For the moment, however, TV Everywhere doesn't live up to its name, and it won't for some time to come.
"It’s called TV Everywhere, and I think eventually it will be exactly that. It will be everything you have on TV anywhere you want to be," Brennan added. "Right now it’s some TV, some places…There is crawl, walk, run, and we are sort of in between crawling and walking right now. We’re certainly not running."
For the full interview, watch the video below.
Troy: Hi, this is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media West in sunny Huntington Beach, California. We’re doing some red carpet interviews with some of the luminaries that are gracing our panels today. I’m so happy to be joined by Sherry Brennan, senior vice president of distribution at Fox Networks. Welcome to the red carpet.
Sherry: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Troy: You were on a panel today talking about TV Everywhere.
Troy: Which is always kind of a challenging subject, I know. It’s important to give people new option … New ways to connect to content, and yet I know there has been kind of a slow rollout of TV Everywhere. It’s not where everybody would like it to be. Can you address why maybe the rollout has been a little slower and a little more complicated than people might understand?
Sherry: Sure. One way I would think about it sometimes is it’s really sad nobody has a magic wand because we could just wave it and it would be there, it would be done. Everyone would have access. The reality is that it’s complicated. It’s not technically that easy to pull off. The integrations are MVPD by MVPD, programmer by programmer, device by device. So that's a lot, sort of a three dimensional matrix that you have to look at and prioritize from an MVPD point of view: Which programmers have content my customers really want to watch on these platforms. Which programmers, how do I want to do the programmers? What order do I want to do them? The programmers are saying what MVPDs have I licensed the rights to? They have their own priority order.
Then when you dimension that out by device, category, or platform, you can see that quickly the complexities just add up. I think in fairness to all of us who’ve been working on this for a long time, yes, it’s taking longer than any of us would like. However, I do think we’ve gotten to a pretty critical mass this year, and we’re starting to see a lot more awareness. You’re starting to see people—more than half of people are aware that they have access to TV Everywhere products, which is great and you’re seeing more adoption as well. I think you’ll just see it grow from here, and I think that’s the good news.
Troy: I know for my part, when I heard about my provider’s TV Everywhere plan and I logged on online expecting to see everything available to watch anytime I want, and I saw a couple of shows. The complications extend to what you’re able to see.
Sherry: Yes, that is true. It’s called TV Everywhere, and I think eventually it will be exactly that. It will be everything you have on TV anywhere you want to be. Right now it’s some TV, some places, and that’s just again, there is crawl, walk, run, and we are sort of in between crawling and walking right now. We’re certainly not running.
Yes, you’re absolutely right. The consumer offering is a little confusing. I think that’s part of the reason you haven’t seen any major national marketing campaigns around TV Everywhere just yet. They are just starting to kind of go out with those. The marketing campaigns we’ve seen to date have all been MVPD specific. It’s not really a cultural norm yet that people think that they should have access to this stuff on their tablet or their phone or their Apple TV or their game console or whatever device they might want to look at.
I think that will again will happen as we go over the tipping point of critical mass in terms of the amount of content available and the number of providers who have licensed the rights for it.
Troy: Now authentication for TV Everywhere, it’s not really that difficult, but it’s kind of a mental roadblock for people, like a hurdle to get over. Are we getting anywhere in making it easier so people don’t even have to worry about it?
Sherry: Yeah. I think people are used to having to have a user ID and a password in many arenas of their life right now in the modern world. You have to have it to go on to your bank account or to pay your gas bill, to check your email. I think just culturally people are becoming more accustomed to having to have user IDs and passwords.
They haven’t been accustomed to having to do with TV of course. You’ve just been able to sit down with your TV and flip on your remote control and away you go. That is the new behavior, and in some cases people have already got their pay TV bill on automatic payment with their bank so they don’t even get a bill every month, they don’t know their account number. There has been some friction created by that type of thing. I do think it’s become easier and once you do it once and you’re in and you’re able to set up your user ID and password, you remember it obviously.
I don’t think that it will ever be something people don’t have to think about. I think just like when you log in to your email or anything else, you’re going to have to do that. I think it will become less of an issue going forward. We certainly saw that with the Olympics I think last time that people were able to figure it out, and a lot of people did. When there’s great content there and people are motivated, I think they’ll figure it out.
Troy: Right. The Olympics is a big motivator.
Sherry: It is, yeah.
Troy: Looking forward, TV Everywhere is important for the cable and satellite industries to prevent cord cutting, to make people want to … To stop churn. What can we do to make TV Everywhere more appealing to people, to make it a more appealing option to viewers?
Sherry: Look, I think it’s just all about what I said a few minutes ago, which is it has to be all TV and it has to really be everywhere.
Sherry: That’s what we have to get to. That’s nirvana, and I think we are on our way. I think we’ll get there.
Troy: Give me a firm calendar date. When are we going to have everything everywhere?
Sherry: My crystal ball is so murky, I don’t even know how to tell you that date. I’m sure that within a couple of years most content will be available most places.
Troy: That would be excellent, excellent. Well thank you so much for joining me Sherry. I appreciate it. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from the red carpet at Streaming Media West.
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