Online TV's new control freaks

Time Warner recently named an executive to lead its TV Everywhere online initiative, which would enable consumers to watch a greater amount of TV programming online by using a controlled, authentication-based service offered through TV service providers such as cable TV firms, telcos and satellite TV providers. The approach, which some might liken to a very large walled garden built by broadcasters with the help of carriers, may be gaining traction conceptually among large telcos and satellite TV firms, according to a report from Multichannel News.

But, TV Everywhere may not be for everyone. Comcast, the company who earlier this year looked to be the most aggressive among major cable TV operators in formulating a plan for online TV dominance, is still pursuing the development of its own programming destination online called On-Demand Online. Some might argue that Comcast is the lone wolf in trying to be a control freak where online TV viewing is concerned, but both its proprietary approach and the more standardized model being pushed by Time Warner are efforts to build a wall around the unstoppable growth of online TV.

It may take much more time to determine winners and losers, as Comcast claims to have a time-to-market advantage, while TV Everywhere may end up having the key to broad industry support. Both must confront the ongoing growth of existing platforms like Hulu. It's still early, and traditional TV viewing remains dominant. Unlike Hulu and other new platforms, TV Everywhere and On-Demand Online are, for the time being, more about keeping traditional TV's economic model and business relationships intact than developing a new model for online TV viewing.

Still, they may signal the end of online TV's Wild West period. The Internet supposedly is unwilling to submit to the tendencies of control freaks, but like attempts to introduce broadband Internet usage tiers, the efforts by cable TV giants and broadcaster-service provider alliances to control online TV viewing likely will show that to harness the Internet, you need only to be strong enough to build a wall.

-Dan

For more:
- Multichannel News has this story

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