TV Everywhere still an inconsistent experience plagued by 'rickety' tech, Fox exec says

SAN FRANCISCO--It was an industry panel convened to discuss the recent progress of the pay-TV industry's long-struggling TV Everywhere initiative (TVE). But even some of TVE's key backers remain mired in frustration over the initiative's vast complexity. 

While 18 percent of pay-TV subscribers are using TVE services monthly, average TVE consumption--outside of major sports events like March Madness--"doesn't look mainstream yet," noted Hardie Tankersley, senior VP of Innovation for Fox Broadcasting, speaking rather critically of the initiative on a TV of Tomorrow conference panel here titled "TV Everywhere: Maintaining the Momentum."

In fact, "the authentication numbers are significantly below" what might be considered mainstream use, he said. "There could be a million reasons why. There are lots of rickety things in the system."

The initial login process remains a key challenge for TVE, Tankersley said, with consumers having to not only download myriad apps from various programmers and operators, but also secure authentication credentials from their pay-TV provider. 

Explaining to the average consumer how to authenticate for TVE services is a "very complicated message to get across," he said. "I've tried to write this ad a number of times--it's a very hard concept, we have to get to a point where we can sell it."

It's exactly that complexity, he added, that's preventing pay-TV operators and programmers from promoting TVE services more.

"And I think that's why the uptake is not completed," Tankersley noted.

Kalash Kumar, director of product management for Adobe Primetime, sat beside Tankersley on the panel. Kumar quoted recent first-quarter statistics from Adobe that showed marked usage of TVE products. For example, in the first quarter of this year 45 percent of pay-TV consumers used an authenticated multiscreen service through their pay-TV provider. 

But the Fox executive said programmers are still grappling with how to consistently translate the look and feel of their network brand through TVE amid myriad pay-TV operator platforms and devices. And monetization through advertising, while improved, remains challenging.

Summed up Tankersley: "I feel like I spend an enormous amount of my day trying to explain to my bosses why it doesn't look like TV."

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