Authentication, awareness are big issues, but TVE must get licensing straightened out first

Daniel Frankel, FierceCableMore than 60 months after Time Warner, Inc. chief Jeff Bewkes and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) grand puba Brian Roberts first introduced the broad, sweeping industry-wide initiative known as TV Everywhere, this vital link to pay-TV's future remains a broken web of incomplete rights negotiations.

Authentication, awareness--the overall consumer experience--remain key issues for TV Everywhere (TVE), but we think it's the spotty, often confusing availability of programming that is the most notable challenge right now. In our feature "Four reasons why TV Everywhere isn't ready for prime time: A simple look at a complex problem," we've broken down the multiscreen licensing challenge into four key themes.

No doubt, progress for this vastly complex endeavor has been made. TVE has hit some major milestones of late. ESPN's delivery of 1.7 million simultaneous live streams for the June World Cup match between the U.S. and Germany, for example, is a technological feat unmatched by any SVOD company from Los Gatos to Seattle.

There has also been tremendous progress made along the lines of ad delivery. And programmers and operators are both working hard on improving the customer authentication process, as well as making sure consumers know about TVE in the first place.

But the low awareness might actually be a good thing. There's an old adage from the broadcast TV world: The quickest way to get a bad show cancelled is with good promotion.

And we believe that more than any other challenge, TVE's lack of comprehensive licensing is setting it back the most. Tempering ESPN's stellar World Cup streaming performance, for example, was the fact that WatchESPN isn't available on the No. 2 pay-TV service in America, DirecTV. The reason? DirecTV and ESPN's parent company, Disney, waited until their next licensing renewal (talks currently happening) to carve out multiscreen rights.

In fact, this dynamic was one of the four key reasons we cited as the biggest obstacles to a more complete, comprehensive TVE rights situation. Enjoy the read.--Daniel


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