TV Everywhere an increasing concern for smaller operators

Reacting to growing viewer demand, Tier 2 and Tier 3 MVPDs are rolling out new TV Everywhere plays, giving subscribers access to their channel lineups online and on mobile devices like the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and iPhone as well as on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android devices.

WideOpenWest Networks, for example, in October said it would be giving subscribers access to HBO Go and Max Go on computers and mobile devices.

"The risk of not doing it, as a competitive provider, is for consumers to go to [rival] cable [operators]," Cristin Brown, vice president of marketing at WOW, told SNL Kagan. "Everyone's moving in this direction," Brown said.

Vendors contend operators are increasingly eager to launch TV Everywhere services, especially where they're in competitive environments.

TV Everywhere services, said SNL Kagan, also potentially reduce the propensity of subscribers to cut the cord and look to online services like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Hulu for their programming.

Research from Parks Associates said some 20 percent of households who said they were very likely to switch providers said they would be unlikely to change if they had access to a free TV Everywhere product.

Multiscreen viewership has taken off in recent years, with more than a quarter million pay-TV subscribers likely to be able to stream to other devices than a TV by 2015; currently some 168 million have access to multiscreen streaming products.

Smaller operators tend to need faster returns on their investment in a TV Everywhere product, Parks Associates' Brett Sappington said.

And, said SNL analyst Ian Olgeirson, access to content also can be problematic for smaller MVPDs.

"The biggest hurdle is content licensing," Olgeirson said, as owners look to maximize rights for their content on multiple devices. "Ultimately, content owners want to ensure they aren't leaving money on the table, and operators are concerned about keeping programming costs in check."

For more:
- see this SNL Kagan report (sub. req.)

Related articles:
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Verizon FiOS TV rolls out apps for Apple's iPad, iPod touch, iPhone
Fox hopes viewers can push pay-TV operators into deals for TV Everywhere play

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