BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield had heard good things about FX's The Americans, and was determined to "catch up" on the original spy drama without paying an additional $1.99 per episode transactional fee on top of his regular pay TV bill.
Blogging about his experience Tuesday, Greenfield neatly outlined the qualitative chasm between the average TV Everywhere service and the more elegant interfaces found on subscription video-on-demand services like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Prime Instant Video and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX).
"While we are singling out FX's 'The Americans' (it was simply the show we wanted to watch and which we really enjoyed watching), the larger TV Everywhere problem we are highlighting affects virtually all broadcast and basic cable networks," Greenfield writes. "TV Everywhere not only feels more like TV Not Everywhere, but the consumer experience/viewing rules are nowhere near what they need to be."
So what happened?
The widely read media technology analyst had no touble binging on all 13 first-season episodes of "The Americans" via Amazon Instant Video, streaming them on both his Roku and Fire TV devices. The problems came while trying to access season two, which isn't available yet via SVOD.
"After enjoying season one of 'The Americans' during March and April 2014, we wanted to continue binging right through season two, which was nearing completion on FX in mid-May. The question became how to watch. No FX apps were available on the Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, etc., so we turned to Time Warner Cable's video-on-demand using their new set-top box VOD portal. We navigated by network to FX and found 'The Americans' rather easily. Unfortunately, the only episodes available were for season two starting at episodes four. Now what? We were determined to not pay extra for content we had already paid for, but had simply not recorded on our DVR."
Greenfield found the episode selection he was looking for on the FX website. But the field of available devices for playback was limited to his laptop or iPad. Meanwhile, he found the commercial load too heavy and repetitive.
"These 60-90 second ad breaks quickly became tortuous due to the repetition of the ads," he writes. "Some days we were shown the same two commercials during every single ad break (Audi and Burger King). Other days we ended up with the exact same ad (Audi) running three times during every commercial break (and remember fast-forwarding was disabled)."
With the first three episodes of season two streamed with the aforementioned discomfort, Greenfield was able to rely on the smoother road surface of Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) video on demand service for episode four. However, he hit potholes once again last month when--with just two season-two episodes left to be viewed--all second-season episodes of "The Americans" were pulled off both TWC VOD and FX's website.
"No warning, no alert saying you better watch these soon or else they will disappear," Greenfield adds. "We presume season two episodes are now all unavailable until they become accessible on Amazon later this year commercial-free, despite the fact that we were willing to suffer through repetitious, unfastforwardable ads to finish season two... Our only choice to watch the final two episodes was to purchase them for $1.99 each, which felt like an insult given that we pay a significant monthly cable video bill, along with Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions."
- read this BTIG Research blog post
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