...The OMAP specification will benefit stakeholders in the online subscription content ecosystem:
-- Multimedia content publishers and distributors will reduce unauthorized access to content, share a common architecture to minimize operational overhead and cost and provide consumers with standardized, secure access to media content over the Internet using their home and mobile devices and client software.
-- Technology vendors and third-party service providers can develop value-added services and commercial solutions to deploy across the entire subscription content ecosystem.
-- Consumers get choice, convenience and a simple and consistent experience, unlike today's proprietary solutions.
"OATC [Open Authentication Technology Committee] is creating the open standards needed to enable simple online access to subscription TV services by bridging the gaps in existing technology with practical and workable solutions," said Glenn Reitmeier, OATC president. "We are very excited to announce this preview of our first of several standards to come that will help MVPDs and programmers give their subscribers more choices than ever before." The OATC is inviting the public to download (http://www.oatc.us/Standards/Download.aspx ) the draft specification and provide comments by May 4, 2012.
...What is clear is that there is no current set of best practices for TV Everywhere authentication. Those operators who provide multiple accounts generally seem to limit each one to one simultaneous login per stream. Other operators enable users to log in only with the master account, generally to ensure that subscribers won’t want to also share their billing information, usage data and parental controls with others. But they will allow multiple simultaneous streams on that account. Others will have one stream and one account. It is the Wild West out there, possibly for good reason.
The password-sharing phenomenon: So how prevalent are these shared accounts? At this point, probably not very. For now, I am probably the exception rather than the rule — but I’m sure I’m not alone. Anecdotal evidence tells me that subscribers to video services tend to share within a household or among a group of friends regardless of the price. I have seen friends share usage of a Netflix or Hulu Plus account. More surprisingly, some friends who share tend not to expect payment back in return for shared access. But that’s just $7.99 per month for a range of older library content. What happens when you are charging upward of $100 for cable access and are offering up content that is only available with a cable subscription? HBO shows, for example, are only available on DVD and Blu-ray long after a season ends, generally about a month or so before a new season begins. And you won’t find them anywhere online unless you have a TV Everywhere account. But if you do, you will be able to watch episodes the next day and increasingly on the device of your choice.
A problem for the college generation? For now, sharing of TV Everywhere accounts is still limited to those who know what those services are, and the industry as a whole still has a long way to go to educate their customers about the streaming content they have access to. But there is one demographic that seems perfectly situated to take advantage of TV Everywhere logins: college students. As a whole, college kids are tech-savvy, watch content on multiple platforms, and generally don’t have a lot of disposable income. Moreover, they don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to whatever content is available through their university dorm’s cable offering. So being able to keep tabs on some of their favorite cable programming while away from home can be a value-add, indeed. One cable network spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous told me it is not necessarily a bad thing for college students to have access while at school. After all, it only drives interest in the programming when they graduate and get their first jobs. But the question remains whether TV Everywhere will eventually convert them to become paying cable customers when they graduate or if they will continue to use Mom and Dad’s account. That is something big cable might have to worry about, especially as the cost of services continues to increase...
Even though availability has been successful, Kent pointed out that adoption, on the other hand, has been disappointing. "In terms of availability, it's been a tremendous success; in terms of adoption, it has not been a success at this point," said Kent. "It's been disappointing." He explained that two main reasons for low adoption are not enough content and it being marketed poorly. He said that the authentication process for viewing content should be streamlined. "Wouldn't it be a great thing to have a single white sheet of paper that said ‘Here's how you go and register so you can get all this great content that's available now,' " said Kent. "I have yet to see a single distributor in any aggressive way put that out there." He said Turner would adopt that strategy. Kent said the biggest roadblock in terms of content seems to be that content providers wait until their channel agreements are up for renewal to negotiate TV Everywhere deals, thus slowing the process. "I don't think you have to wait for your four or five year channel renewal deal to come up with an operator to start letting our customers get access to this content," he said.
The National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) , Light Reading Cable has learned, has launched a plan to create a centralized authentication platform for multi-screen services like HBO Go or those planned around the the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. An authentication system, in this sense, would ensure that customers that try to log into an MSO's TV Everywhere offering via a PC or an iPad are indeed cable TV subscribers and are authorized to view the particular piece of content they have requested. Several large and mid-sized MSOs have created their own authentication systems for TV Everywhere or are working in tandem with a company like Synacor Inc. to build content portals and develop TV Everywhere interfaces with individual programmers. But that still leaves hundreds of cable operators out there that don't have the resources to build their own system or are not quite big enough to make it worthwhile for one vendor to take them on individually. The NCTC hopes its aggregated approach will create economies of scale for its MSO members and for TV Everywhere vendors. Instead of forcing hundreds of individual operators to make requests to launch HBO Go, for example, there's an opportunity for the NCTC "to create a bridge, or a common platform" to authenticate their customers for HBO content to be delivered to PCs, tablets and other IP-connected devices, says NCTC VP of Technology Alan Tschirner.
Adobe Systems' Pass service validates that customers are entitled to view online content based on their pay-TV subscription package. Adobe Pass is seeing adoption with programmers and content portals including Fox Networks, Turner Broadcasting (including the CNN app for iPad), Hulu, MTV Networks, Scripps Networks Interactive and AMC Networks. Adobe Pass is now offered as a TV Everywhere implementation option to content providers serving approximately 90 percent of the U.S. pay-TV market via Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Verizon, Cablevision, Charter and Suddenlink. In addition to enabling authentication on both Mac and Windows platforms, Adobe Pass also provides authentication solutions for mobile devices.
... Lepe said Ooyala Everywhere will shorten the time to market for branded subscription video services. The OVP also announced Ooyala Personal Playback, a universal login and entitlement service that authenticates users across an operator's CRM or a third-party service like Adobe PASS or Ooyala's own subscription management service. This gives content distributors the ability to monetize video consumption across all connected devices. "In the near future, all ‘television' will be viewed on connected devices," said Lepe. "The world where a viewer is tethered to a single location to watch TV programming is very quickly coming to an end. Companies that do not evolve to provide an engaging and personalized video experience across all screens will continue to lose market share and eventually disappear. Ooyala Everywhere shortens the time to market for launching a video experience that is optimized for all screens. And with Ooyala Personal Playback, content providers can provide a unique and connected experience for consumers."
Time Warner Cable has received at least one cease-and-desist letter from a programmer demanding its networks be removed from the MSO's recently launched iPad streaming video app -- a reaction the operator was not expecting, according to chief programming officer Melinda Witmer.
"TV was supposed to be everywhere by now – watchable anytime, anywhere, on your smartphone or tablet. But four years into the industry’s effort, network executives readily admit: TV isn’t everywhere.
The promise of “TV Everywhere” has been a key strategy in the cable and satellite TV industry’s fight to retain customers in the face of challenges from online video providers such as Netflix.
With TV Everywhere, customers who pay for packages with hundreds of television channels are supposed to be able to watch them on mobile devices and computers as well for no extra charge. That perk is meant to make pay TV packages seem more worthwhile and keep customers from defecting.
Yet many rights deals still haven’t been worked out. More important, audience measurement firms have been slow to count viewing on mobile devices, so advertisers have been reluctant to pay as much for commercials on phones and tablets compared with television sets.
“We either don’t get any credit at all, or if we do get credit it’s at a fraction of what we would have gotten if they first watched it live on the TV,” Ron Lamprecht, NBCUniversal’s executive vice president for digital distribution, said during a panel at The Cable Show, an industry conference this week.
This gap in ad revenue has created a kind of chicken-and-egg scenario. Networks and pay TV providers aren’t able to offer as many shows online because they don’t want to spend too much for rights without knowing they can make their money back. So, viewers can’t reliably find their favorite shows online and don’t use the services much."
Peter Rosenberg's insight:
Having attended the panel discussion referenced in the article, here are my key takeaways (combined with some editorial insight ;-)
Universally accepted viewer measuremt across all platforms is essential to driving a level monetization comparable to the traditional/current "big screen" model. The content availability (and consumers) will follow. As Ron Lamprecht (NBC Universal) noted “We either don’t get any credit at all, or if we do get credit it’s at a fraction of what we would have gotten if they first watched it live on the TV”.
Usability for consumers is still problamatic, especially regarding the authentication process. While in-home "auto-authentication" by MVPDs able to leverage the identity of the cable modem helps, there are still significant obstacles for users who do not know or remember their credentials. Marcien Jenckes (Comcast) mentioned that Comcast was evaluating the possiblity of leveraging Facebook for TVE logins - an approach I have advocated for some time. (Synacor now offers Social Login for TVE to its customers.) A device registration process will be critical to enabling secure authentication - especially outside the home. Some of these issues are currently being discussed and/or addressed in the OATC (http://oatc.us/) Usability Working Group.
Public understanding & perception of TVE is also an issue. As Jeremy Legg (Turner) noted, it is a "project not a product".
Discoverabilityand availability of content was also raised as problamatic. The average consumer does not understand why they can watch content on some devices & places but not others, nor is there an intuitive way for them to discover where and on which platform the content they want to watch is available. That there are complex rights & contractual issues at play is not something that is easily understood or communicated to the viewer.
This edition of the Summer Games promises to be different from past Olympics, and it might be a real boon for viewers. Every stream from every sport from London will be live. There will be no dilly-dallying as there was two years ago at the Vancouver Winter Games when NBC streamed only hockey and curling live on its site. But as usual, the opening and closing ceremonies will be tape-delayed until prime time. In all, there will be 3,500 hours of live streaming video. Few will watch them all (is it possible, I wonder?), but they will be there. Still, whatever you watch, at whatever time, you will want to be able to dip into it without encountering any access problems. “Sure, we have fears that people who are asked to take an action, to click for access, are going to be deterred,” said Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics. “We learned two years ago that the consumer needs more education.” He said customers have, over that time, learned to verify their accounts for other content.
“A portion of the population is getting comfortable,” he added.
Verification (or authorization) should be easy and quick. It looks simple in the short demonstration video starring Carson Daly that NBC has sent to cable, satellite and telephone company providers: Go to nbcolympics.com /LiveExtra. From a drop-down menu, choose the cable, satellite or telephone company you have an account with. The next step depends on where you subscribe (and if you’re on a digital tier that includes MSNBC and CNBC, which is nearly everyone’s). Generally, you will have to enter the user name and password that corresponds to your account to verify your computer, mobile device or tablet. If all works well, you will never have to verify again. But Comcast and Cablevision have developed ways to speed the process. When Comcast Xfinity and Cablevision Optimum broadband customers identify themselves on the NBC Olympic site from their home computers, their accounts will be recognized and automatically verified without the entering of user names and passwords. “We wanted to create a frictionless environment and remove obstacles to let them get to the Olympic content,” said Amalia O’Sullivan, Cablevision’s vice president for broadband product operations. “We know that for a very condensed period time, and for a broad base of customers, there would be great interest in this product.”...
Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes urged distributors and content providers alike to speed up adoption of TV Everywhere like services, or suffer the consequences in declining subscriber rolls... Bewkes called for all major TV networks to make their content available through TV everywhere, adding that old fears that subscription video on demand would overwhelm the TV business have proven unfounded. He called for all major TV networks to make their content available via authentication, adding that in not doing so they "risk letting others take this opportunity." "We have not waited to have our affiliate agreements expire and rollover in order to make authenticated, powerful versions of our networks available to consumers," Bewkes continued. "The best way to get paid for TV Everywhere' is to offer it to your viewers. Give it to your viewers today... Also vital, he added is the ability to measure viewership on all of the various devices. "Nielsen needs to accelerate its efforts to measure this viewing on more than just the PC," Bewkes said.
News Corp. prexy and chief operating officer Chase Carey vented frustrations with the industry's TV Everywhere efforts at the D:Dive Into Media conference Tuesday. Carey didn't mince words on how badly he believes cable, satellite and telcos have botched extending program viewing to digital platforms at no extra charge to subscribers who access content via authentication. "I'd say authentication is a pretty poor execution to date," said Carey at the confab in Laguna Niguel, Calif. hosted by Dow Jones' AllThingsD website. "The process is way too difficult, way too unfriendly." Carey's harsh assessment -- he later referred to the TV Everywhere user experience as a "pain in the neck" -- represented a notable dissent from industrywide support for authentication, which is seen as a defensive maneuver to help cablers and satcasters compete against digital upstarts like Netflix. But TV Everywhere has been criticized in recent years despite repeated support from high-profile advocates like Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes for its slow rollout and chilly consumer reception. Said Carey, "I'm frustrated by the progress to date or lack thereof in terms of making authentication something of a friendly user experience."
... both Spotify and the labels envision the expanded APIs as the music industry’s version of “authentication,” or “TV Everywhere” — the TV industry plan that gives cable TV subscribers the ability to watch (some) programming on the Web or on iPad apps. Call it “Music Everywhere.” At least some of the big labels are “philosophically aligned with the idea of using Spotify as an ‘authentication layer,’” says an industry executive. “They see this as a value-add and they’re not worried about cannibalization.”
Microsoft and Hulu are bulking up their online-video offerings aimed at paying subscribers, as TV-content suppliers try to turn back the clock on free streaming...
Authentication directly addresses one of TV-channel owners' biggest fears about jumping to new platforms: that online video could tempt viewers to cut off cable subscriptions, or avoid signing up for them in the first place. Media researcher SNL Kagan estimates that the percentage of U.S. households that use Web-video instead of paying for TV service will grow to nearly 4% by year end, up from 2% a year earlier. That could cut into the more than $30 billion a year that SNL Kagan says TV channels reap from consumers monthly cable bills. But the concept also poses dangers. It risks stoking piracy among viewers who are used to free viewing. It also could tie traditional businesses to ever-growing cable bills that some executives concede are unsustainable in the long term, especially when facing a sluggish economy. Until now, the "TV Everywhere" concept has been slow in gaining traction in large part because some TV-channel owners want to be paid extra in order to grant distributors the right to pipe their programming over the Internet.
Fox Network announced late today it will begin delaying Web access to many of the network's popular TV programs, essentially putting up a de facto paywall around its content. Beginning August 15, only those people who subscribe to a participating video distributor will be able to view TV shows on an Internet portal the day after shows air on the network, the company said in a press release. All other viewers who are used to seeing episodes of "The Simpsons," "Bones," and "Glee" for free the next day on sites such as Hulu or Fox.com will now have to wait eight days to catch their shows. "We are continually looking at opportunities to provide our pay television distributors with content and products that enhance the value of pay television to subscribers," Michael Hopkins, president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Networks, said in a statement. "Our new authentication service will continue to provide next-day access to Fox broadcast shows for our viewers who subscribe to participating pay television providers."
As part of the strategy, individuals would be able to voluntarily obtain a secure credential – such as a piece of software on their smartphone, or a smart card or a token that generates a one-time password – from their choice of public and private sector identity providers. This credential would be used for online authentication when banking, accessing electronic health records, sending email and making online purchases. Since users would be able to choose from a variety of credential providers, there would be no single, centralized database of user information, the White House said in a news release Friday.