Multiplatform World: TV Everywhere Still Lacks Simplified, Consistent User Experience

New York—TV Everywhere still faces hurdles to being dubbed an unqualified success, but consistency of user experience should be one metric to measure it, according to panelists at B&C/Multichannel News' TV in a Multiplatform World event on Thursday.

"The ease of which a consumer can discover, fulfill the content they're looking for, should be our success metric," said Ian Greenblatt, director, content strategy and business development at Arris. "If we provide them with consistent experience that's easy to use, that means we did it right."

Greenblatt was speaking on a roundtable discussion about the Business of TV Everywhere moderated by B&C executive editor Dade Hayes. But not all panelists agreed about what constitutes a simple user interface.

"Simple is a matter of perspective," said Sefy Ariely, executive VP Americas, Viaccess-Orca. "What is simple to a 17-year-old is different to other demographics." He argued that the power of TV Everywhere lies in leveraging its personalization.

"There needs to be the freedom for the user to engage with content as deeply or shallow as they like," he said. "Because the video market has become so competitive, operators sometimes miss that there needs to be a reason for consumers to come back to that store instead of five others. That's something that we're not always grasping."

Ed Huguez, president of affiliate distribution at Starz, said that building awareness is another measure of success, which when it comes to TV Everywhere is still in its infancy. He argued that the whole industry is being driven by the distributors, who have a huge opportunity to provide a utility for their broadband service and further monetize it, especially when facing increasing competition from over-the-top providers, particularly Netflix.

Other panelists took a more skeptical approach. Stefane France, international operations director, content division at Orange-France Telecom, urged perspective. "One important point is to not overestimate TV Everywhere," he said, saying that TV viewing on mobile is only 1.5 hours a month in France. While he noted that for now the mobile viewing experience is copying what is on linear TV, he believes there will be new specific services like DVR for mobile in the future.

But all agreed that TV Everywhere is here to stay and that consumers now expect to be ale to watch their content whenever and wherever they want to, regardless of whether it supports a company's bottom line.

"You have to create the type of experiences and stickiness so that they will go to portal X, and not try to restrict their viewership because it supports ad revenue," said Kelly Delany, VP of marketing, Deluxe Digital Distribution.

And though recent legislation has called for unbundling of cable channel packages, the panelists said that developing a richer TV Everywhere experience could actually lessen the demand for cheaper per channel options. Dean McCormick, VP advertising solutions at BlackArrow, noted that the ad-supported TV ecosystem is in fact necessary to underwrite the hugely expensive development process that feeds on-demand services like Netflix

"If you screw with ability for network to launch shows, you may end up paying a lot more for content in coming years," he said. "It's not that easy to say unbundling is the way the whole system should go."