Viacom's latest TV Everywhere spin: Users prefer it over other online services because of content

As complicated technology launches across sprawling industries go, the launch of TV Everywhere has been anything but quick and easy. But following a steady drumbeat of bad news about the pay TV broadband migration initiative -- cumbersome deal structures, limited customer awareness, etc. -- some positive data is starting to sprinkle into the marketplace.

The latest happy news comes from conglomerate Viacom Media Networks, which released a study Wednesday indicating that TV Everywhere users consume more television overall. The study also found that the majority of viewers who use a wide assortment of online programming services prefer TV Everywhere because it has a greater content selection. 

In its "TV Here, There, (Not Quite) Everywhere" study, Viacom focused on 1,900 viewers of its content in the New York and Chicago areas, polling them on their usage of authenticated pay TV services that allow them to watch programming on IP-based devices, as well as usage of various over-the-top services

Among its findings:

  • Of those polled, 64 percent said they watch more TV overall since they started using TV Everywhere services, with 72 percent of millennial-aged viewers reporting an uptick in tube viewing.
  • Among those who use both TV Everywhere services and other online programming sources (Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Hulu, Amazon Prime (NASDAQ: AMZN), etc.) to watch TV shows, 68 percent say they watch TV Everywhere sources more often because of the content.
  • TV Everywhere users tend to use the authenticated services to binge and catch up on programming, with 31 percent of respondents indicating they re-watch shows via TV Everywhere and 22 percent saying they use it to start watching shows from their first-season origins.

The unhappy news: Viacom's study found that TV Everywhere still suffers from a lack of awareness and understanding among pay TV subscribers. "There also no go-to source of discovery," the study's authors note, with 17 percent of polled users finding out about the services via TV advertising, 16 percent made aware by a spouse or partner, and 54 percent of kids learning about it from their parents.

The Viacom study comes on the heels of a May 9 report from research firm NPD Group indicating that 21 percent of pay TV users now use TV Everywhere services at least once a month--which is still a distinct minority of subscribers, but a significant uptick in engagement, nonetheless. 

While usage and awareness slowly tick up for an initiative that was now conceived more than five years ago, there's still plenty of skepticism out there. Referring to TV Everywhere as a "patchwork of apps, services and industry politics, Gigaom writer Janko Roettgers on Monday cited a study from research company Sandvine, revealing that even videogame-focused video platform Twitch generates more broadband traffic than TV Everywhere's biggest success story, HBO Go.

Still, even the harshest critics of pay TV industry authentication services are noting the "silver linings," with Roettgers adding, "TV Everywhere has been a success in an unlikely area: it has forced networks and operators to think more like Netflix, and radically change their development to embrace mobile devices and much shorter release cycles--all of which is helping them to prepar themselves for the streaming future."

For more:
- see this press release
- Gigaom has this story

Related links:
Pay TV subscribers are eating up TV Everywhere, says NPD Group
Shifting consumer behavior driving personalization of pay-TV content
TV Everywhere's biggest challenge: customer awareness
Synacor CEO resigns as TV Everywhere vendor pummeled in Q4