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TV Everywhere “years away,” Viacom executive says

Although it's talked about in ubiquitous terms, “TV Everywhere,” the cable industry’s multi-platform viewing strategy to keep its subscribers from “cutting the cord” to subscription services, will take at least three years to take hold in earnest, the chief executive of Viacom told a media conference in Palm Beach, Florida last week.

Philippe Dauman, President and CEO of Viacom, told the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom Conference that TV Everywhere has been a slow process “mostly because there have been issues with technical capabilities on the part of many distributors.”

Viacom, he said, has authentication deals with FiOS and Cablevision and he expects more such deals to happen in the future when the problems are ironed out. Viacom owns major cable networks like BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

“I think for the kind of full robust capabilities in a majority of the distribution universe to occur, it’s going to be a two-to-three year process,” Dauman said. While he said that the TV Everywhere strategy is good for both the content and distribution sides, the delays are due to issues surrounding the required server and encoding technology as well as the marketing plans of various distributors, rather than a reluctance to participate from content providers.

“Anytime you can get more avenues to distribute your content, it’s ultimately an incremental opportunity,” Dauman said. “You’re seeing healthy competitive pressure coming from the digital side. To the extent that accelerates some of the traditional distributors and what they’re doing, that’s only good for content companies.”

Earlier at the conference, Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes called for all major networks to offer more authenticated content, or face the consequences of dwindling viewers. He also urged cable operators to focus on better interfaces and easier authentication processes for viewers.

Bewkes told his peers this is not the time to rest on their laurels, but to ask can the industry take further advantage of the opportunity and give consumers more of what they want.

“By far the most powerful way to do that is what we call Content Everywhere,” or TV Everywhere, Bewkes said in arguing that all major TV networks should be available in authenticated form. “We do risk letting others take this opportunity” if the industry doesn't follow through with determination, he added.