Nearly three years after Time Warner and Comcast kicked off a drive to make cable programming available online for cable subscribers, the idea of TV Everywhere remains mired in technical holdups, slow deal-making and disputes over who will control TV customers in the future, reports the WS Journal.
Now some media executives say the effort, aimed at insulating cable television against a rising tide of cheap online video alternatives, risks getting left behind—a concern that found voice last week at two different industry conferences.
Subscription fees are crucial to the survival of many cable-TV channels, which reap nearly $38 billion a year from households’ cable bills, according to market-researcher SNL Kagan. But even if TV executives agree that it is a good idea to protect that business with something like TV Everywhere, they don’t all agree on where the networks should be available online.
Each cable operator, phone company and satellite-TV provider must negotiate separate agreements for online rights to every cable channel. So far, just a few companies have reached wide-ranging deals.
At the same time, the availability of alternative online video is exploding. Google’s YouTube is spending hundreds of millions of dollars funding new channels that are available anywhere. Netflix is ramping up spending to buy reruns and now original shows—like a cable channel but without the rest of the cable bill.
New apps from TV networks like HBO Go and WatchESPN threaten the traditional cable monopoly. The new apps give networks the opportunity to be in direct contact with consumers, sometimes for the first time.
One aspect on LTE-A may allow wireless operators to compete more directly with cable providers.
Qualcomm and Ericsson demonstrated LTE Broadcast, the evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) platform last week at MWC. The eMBMS feature multi-casts the same media signals over one LTE channel to multiple recipients in the same geographic region. LTE Broadcast delivers high-bandwidth, high-demand live, premium and software content and allows operators to optimize delivery using broadcast, one to many features.
Whether AppleTV, for example, could effectively deliver a “wireless cable” service using eMBMS may depend on urban density of LTE infrastructure and consumer demand for simultaneous viewing. But “wireless cable” could be a real competitor to coax and DSL providers. That may explain why Dish wants in.