The pace of the industry’s TVE adoption has been under scrutiny recently. Deal-making around the service has been slow, despite the concept being around for years. And some smaller ops say that boarding the TVE bandwagon is not ideal for those currently ready and willing to bring TVE to subs.
But besides squabbles for content rights, there’s also the issue of consumer awareness.
Some major cable players, like Turner Broadcasting, have been vocal in their embrace of TVE and have begun working to inform consumers. Last year it launched a TVE marketing campaign to boost awareness with spots featuring talent such as Conan O’Brien. During the Super Bowl, Time Warner Cable solicited the likes of Ricky Gervais to talk TVE, too.
Last week consumer education got another push. Integration and authentication platform Synacor announced a partnership with Turner to provide subscriber authentication software for the net’s March Madness event. According to Theodore May, SVP Strategy & Business Affairs, Synacor, the company’s hoping to raise significant TVE awareness with the event. And it may very well achieve it, since the tourney can’t be streamed online for free this year. Turner games require authentication or $3.99, while all CBS games will be streamed nationwide for free.
One TVE issue, said May, is that consumer understanding of the relationship between parties involved is not where it should be. And communicating that to subs is imperative. High-profile events like March Madness will contribute to “raising general awareness of the concept, particularly from the operator, programmer and consumer triangle,” he said. It will also stress the “importance of credentials,” which is something both ops and content providers can agree upon. “It’s a good venue to get the word out.”
Synacor has worked with other operators and content providers to create TVE solutions, including Charter, Suddenlink, HBO and EPIX, on integrations to make day-to-day content available through embedded players. It’s also working on a technology solution to speed up the process for smaller ops. “Ultimately that’s the goal—to develop ways to bring in the larger group.” He admits, though, that “the big ones get most of the focus. So that’s one of the things we’ve been working on with Turner—a way to extend the reach, if you will. It may be more event-specific initially,” but a broadly-applicable “pathway” is the end goal.
We’ll probably see more authenticated events—not just from Turner—where consumers will see a “similar focus and effort,” said May. But the authenticator will wait to see the numbers post-event before making additional commitments. For now, the “expectation is that we’ll make real progress with acclimating people.” Once that happens, the industry may have no choice but to catch up.