Time Warner and Comcast Unveil "TV Everywhere" Principles
--Comcast to Begin National Technical Trial of "On Demand Online" Service
Time Warner announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Comcast to develop "broad principles" for the "TV Everywhere" model to guide the distribution of its television content online (note: the "TV Everywhere" model, which has long been championed by Time Warner and its chairman and CEO, Jeff Bewkes, seeks to make programming that pay-TV customers have already paid for through their cable, satellite or IPTV subscriptions available to those customers on multiple platforms, and thus aims to head off the threat posed to pay-TV services by the increasing availability of over-the-top programming--for more background, see the articles published on itvt.com, April 30th and May 14th). The companies say that their agreement will enable Comcast subscribers to access programming from Time Warner-owned Turner Broadcasting's cable/satellite channels on-demand and online, free-of-charge (or, to be more accurate, at no extra charge). Comcast plans to begin next month a national technical trial of a new "On Demand Online" service that will carry programming from Turner's TNT and TBS channels. "TV Everywhere is no longer just a concept, but a working model to deliver consumers more television content over broadband than ever before," Time Warner's Bewkes said in a prepared statement. "We consistently look to make our popular, branded content more accessible to consumers in order to grow our business. This progressive approach to delivering television content online will enable the continued vibrancy and growth of distribution outlets, their content partners and advertising clients." Added Comcast chairman and CEO, Brian Roberts: "Today's announcement is all about giving our customers exponentially more free content, more choice and more HD programming online as well as on TV. We have been working for a year to bring more TV and movie content to our customers online and we are thrilled that Time Warner is joining us in our national technical trial. Ultimately, our goal is to make TV content available to our customers on all platforms."
The companies say that they have endorsed a framework that would bring significantly more TV content to customers online, in a manner that is "consumer-friendly, pro-competitive and non-exclusive." In order to "ensure rapid adoption and deployment of online television content across the industry," the companies have developed a set of TV Everywhere principles that they say are intended to be "simple and attractive for any programmer and any video distributor to elect to adopt." The principles are:
- "Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms."
- "Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge."
- "Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection."
- "Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online."
- "Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication."
- "A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms."
- "TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers."
According to the companies, their agreement for a national On Demand Online technical trial will make more TNT and TBS programming available online to Comcast video customers than was ever previously available, including such shows as TNT's "The Closer" and "Saving Grace" and TBS's "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns" and "My Boys." The shows will initially be available on Comcast.net and Fancast.com (Comcast's online video and programming guidance site) and will at a later stage also be available on TNT.tv and TBS.com, the companies say. The trial will involve approximately 5,000 Comcast customers, and will be dedicated to testing on a national basis new authentication technology that will allow secured access to premium long-form content offered under the TV Everywhere initiative. The trial--which is expected to use technologies from Move Networks and thePlatform and which Comcast and Time Warner say will give customers an opportunity to provide feedback that will help shape the service over time--is billed as the first phase of a multi-phase roll-out that will expand the amount of content available on the service, as well as its features and functionality. Comcast says that it expects other programming networks to participate in the trial over the coming weeks, while Time Warner says that it expects to announce similar trials with other distributors. If the trial is successful, a commercial On Demand Online service could be launched as soon as the fourth quarter, Comcast says.