Streaming Media East: Large Events Drive TV Everywhere
"We launched our TV Everywhere product in mid-December, so we're about six months in," said Evan Silverman, senior vice president of Digital Media at A&E Network. "We launched on the iPad, an app for each of the three main networks, for A&E, for History, and for Lifetime. We followed that up in mid-February on the iPhone and we are set to release on Android in early June. It's been an extremely positive experience, greater than we even thought. We've had our four best months for total video views of all time January through April of '13...We have found that all of the viewing has been additive, not cannibalistic."
"About a third of our overall video views are coming from our TV Everywhere apps on iOS. If you had asked me in December, before we launched, what I thought that percentage would be, I would have maybe said five to ten percent out of the gate," he added.
Silverman made his comments during "The Business of TV Everywhere" yesterday at the 2013 Streaming Media East conference in New York.
"One of the main drivers of TV Everywhere adoption is large events," added Epix chief of staff Nora Ryan, "including sporting events, which happen in real-time, that consumers absolutely want to watch."
Ooyala CTO and co-founder Sean Knapp agreed, adding that TV Everywhere has increased fans' ability to view regional sporting events.
"I grew up in the Northwest and went to college in California, so if I'm in another part of the country and want to watch a game from the Pac 12, chances are good that I will only have one of the other six national college feeds available on my local cable company's programming lineup," Knapp said.
"When Pac 12 was on-boarded on to our platform, though, we found that viewers were also choosing to view the other feeds, meaning they could keep up with the college teams they grew up on," he continued.
The panel didn't really talk about the implications of a consumer in one region viewing content that's typically only licensed for cable viewing in another region, but they did touch on the fact that regional sports is a unique use case. For most content, licensing is national.
"As a movie network, we don't have the big events like sport to drive compelling TV Everywhere authentications," said Ryan, "but we do see significant authentications with every set-top and over-the-top device that we launch on."
Ryan went on to talk about the launch of Epix on Xbox and on Roku.
"We've seen Roku users as our most engaged customers," said Ryan, with a nod to panel moderator Scott Rosenberg, vice president of business development at Roku. "And when we launched on Xbox, we saw significant uptake."
Still, Ryan said that the required steps in authentication for viewing content on TV Everywhere apps can be daunting to the average consumer.
"If I weren't in the industry," said Ryan, "it would never dawn on me that I'd have to get my password from my cable provider in order to watch a particular network's video on demand on my iPad."
Silverman said that TV Everywhere success for the Android and iOS apps will undoubtedly lead to additional set-top and over-the-top boxes on which A+E Networks will launch.
Ooyala's Knapp said another big driver for TV Everywhere is viewing revolve around times when it's just not convenient to watch the big screen in the living room.
"We still see viewing patterns that include increased tablet viewing later in the evening," said Knapp, "which indicates tablet usage just before sleeping. In addition, we're seeing strong smartphone viewership during big events when someone's away from the television."
Ryan returned to the theme of education, mentioning an article on the front page of the business section of The New York Times talking about cable video on demand (VoD).
"The Times article says that VoD has finally hit the mainstream," said Ryan. "But we all know that it's taken a decade -- and a lot of learning -- to get to the point where consumers are presented with a number of apps that provide a consumer with a number of 'channels' they can choose from. The same will be true of TV Everywhere, although we all expect it won't take a decade to see traction."
"We're rapidly moving, from a 200-channel universe to a universe of millions of channels, based on one individual customized channel per consumer," Knapp added.
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