Time Warner Cable and Verizon have both joined Comcast in trials of TV Everywhere services to allow pay-television subscribers to watch premium programming online. So far the trials announced are small scale experiments and it could be some time before all subscribers are actually able to view TV Everywhere.
In the Time Warner trials of TV Everywhere some 5,000 customers will have online access to a variety of programming for participating networks to which they subscribe, both on the web sites of the companies involved and on Time Warner Cable online properties.
“TV Everywhere is an all-around win for those of us who love television,” said Glenn Britt, the head of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator in the United States. “It will give our customers more control over content and allow them greater access to programmes they are already paying for, while enhancing the distributors’ and networks’ robust business model that encourages the creation of great content.”
Time Warner chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Bewkes said: “When we first announced the TV Everywhere initiative, we hoped others in the industry would soon sign on to provide consumers with more on-demand television content over all platforms including broadband.”
Verizon is joining in with its FiOS TV Online service, with a TV Everywhere trial to bring television programming online to subscribers of its FiOS TV fibre optic service. Initially the trial will only include programming from Time Warner’s Turner networks, TNT and TBS, with others expected to follow. So far only 500 customers are involved in the trial, which is expected to scale up over the next few months.
“As the appetite for instant, easy access to high-quality entertainment continues to explode, only Verizon is able to deliver to customers what they want, wherever they go,” said Shawn Strickland, vice president of FiOS product management for Verizon. “As an industry, it’s critical that we get the TV Everywhere user experience and value proposition right,” said Strickland. “Our FiOS TV trial will enable us to integrate feedback from our customers to help deliver a service that is consistent with the ultimate entertainment experience that FiOS TV customers have come to expect.”
Comcast was the first to test the TV Everywhere experience with its On Demand Online service, using back end systems powered by thePlatform, which it acquired back in 2006. Comcast says it will launch a commercial service in 2010. Other pay-television provides, including DIRECTV are expected to offer similar services.
While service providers may be ready to trial the service on a small scale, some are sceptical that it will be will be more broadly deployed soon, expecting that it could be more like 2011 or 2012 before such a service is widespread.
Quincy Smith, the chief executive of CBS Interactive has said the lack of standardisation could be a stumbling block. “The hurdles — at least as we see it — are huge. I’ve seen in the last 20 days about 40 different proposals for what TV Everywhere means to each individual company,” he said earlier this month. “There’s no consensus. There’s no standards.”
In the mean time, cable customers will just have to make do with using a Slingbox to watch their home television service online.
In Britain, Sky has been offering premium programming online, live and on demand, for some time with its Sky Player proposition.