2010 Year in Review: TV Everywhere still stuck in nowhere

The TV Everywhere teaser is tantalizing: Imagine being able to start watching a program on your television, pick up where you left off on your smartphone on the way to work, and finish it during a lunch break on your iPad or laptop.

The reality is that TV Everywhere is, essentially nowhere; after a year of fits and starts by an industry that desperately wants to find a way to keep subscribers paying their monthly bill, the beta tests are still in beta (or, in some cases, on hold), and the soon-to-be-rolled out offerings are still being tweaked.

The problem? Despite decades of filling Hollywood's coffers with carriage fees, pay TV's TV Everywhere initiative is being looked at in the same light as Tinseltown sees Google TV: a business model that, as CBS chief Les Moonves says, returns pennies on the dollar.

At the NAB show in Las Vegas in April, the topic of TV Everywhere was, everywhere, but the actual product was virtually a no-show.

L.A.'s cable show, which was expected to be a launching pad for the platform, was, instead, a dud. The biggest player, Comcast, was in the middle of what has become a perpetual redesign of the product.

TV Everywhere plays that have launched have been met with critical reviews about a lack of content, a lack of access, and have been roundly criticized as being poorly thought out.

It's a product the industry isn't yet ready to abandon.

In July, Turner Broadcasting System announced it was going live with a TV Everywhere play with Verizon FiOS TV, giving Verizon's customers access to TBS and TNT content 24 hours after they air on regular TV.

Andy Heller, TBS vice chairman, at the time said, "It is more imperative than ever that TV Everywhere gains traction throughout the industry given the rapid deployment of tablets and the ability of mobile devices to display long-form video directly from Web sites."

But content providers just aren't sure TV Everywhere is any better than over the top.

In July, MTV Networks and Discovery executives predicted TV Everywhere would fail, unless operators delivered more ad revenues to programmers.

MTV's Joey Molko said: "The extent to which we can monetize (TV Everywhere) will really drive the extent to which we can embrace it. If we monetize it the exact same way as linear [TV], I think people will be excited about it. If it remains like VOD, I don't think people will put a large amount of content out there."