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Everything You Need to Know About TV Everywhere

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UPDATE (12/03/09): For a comprehensive analysis of TV Everywhere, check out The Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere report over at our subscription research service, GigaOM Pro.

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You’re going to hear the phrase “TV Everywhere,” well, just about everywhere tomorrow. As Om reported earlier this evening, Comcast (s CMSCA) and Time Warner Inc. (s TWX) (not Time Warner Cable) are holding press conference tomorrow morning to announce they are teaming up to “advance” the TV Everywhere initiative. Ooh! Sounds so official. We’ll be on the call and will give you the skinny afterwards.┬áIf you’re a regular NTV reader, you know all about TV Everywhere and so-called authentication. But if you’re a noob, here’s what you need to know.

What is this “TV Everywhere?”

  • TV Everywhere is an authentication system whereby certain premium content (TV shows, movies, etc.) are available online — but only if you can prove (or “authenticate”) that you have a subscription to a multiservice operator (e.g. cable, satellite, telco TV).
  • The TV Everywhere moniker is from Time Warner. Up until now, Comcast had been using “OnDemand Online” for its authentication plans.

What does TV Everywhere mean for me?

  • Well, it means a couple things. The companies behind TV Everywhere like to say that it will open up new content from cable networks that previously hasn’t been available online, which is true. But if you want to enjoy that content, as noted earlier, you’ll have to prove that you have paid for it.

What kind of new content?

  • Good question. Don’t know yet. Come back tomorrow.

Why is TV Everywhere being created?

  • Cable companies pay big chunks of money to cable networks (USA, MTV, FX) to carry their programming. Comcast and its ilk are none too happy when these networks then turn around and put said content on the Internet for free — and run ads!
  • But the bigger issue is control. In the old days, if you wanted high-quality video content, your TV set was your only option. Thanks to the Internet and all kinds of magical video technology, premium content can be piped not only to your PC, but to your TV. If you get all your video through your Internet connection, then you have no need for your cable company.

How much will TV Everywhere cost?

  • Cable companies have said repeatedly that subscribers will not be charged extra for authentication services like TV Everywhere. But as we’ve said before, we’ve never met a cable company that didn’t like tacking on an extra fee anywhere they could.
  • Additionally, many cable companies are also ISPs, and rolling out metered broadband or broadband caps, limiting (or charging extra) for the amount of video you consume online.

When will TV Everywhere go into effect?

  • Release dates have been vague. Last we heard, it was the second half of this year.

What’s Fancast’s role in all this?

  • Fancast is the online video portal owned by Comcast. We spoke with Karin Gilford, senior vice president of Fancast and online entertainment for Comcast Interactive Media in April, and she said her team was “laser-focused” on implementing authentication. We’ll probably find out more about Fancast’s role tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the video interview we did with Gilford (embedded here), who explains more about what authentication is, and what it means.

What about Hulu?

  • While Hulu mainly offers network TV programming, it does provide some cable programming from parent company cable nets like USA and FX. We’ll have to wait and see, but NBC CEO Jeff Zucker has mentioned adding a subscription level to Hulu.

What else do I need to know?

  • TV Everywhere has a lot of hurdles it still needs to overcome both operationally and technically, but it will become the new status quo. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

UPDATE: Well, we didn’t learn much from the TV Everywhere call this morning. It was mostly to unveil a set of broad principles. Check out our recap and our follow-up questions.

95 Responses to “Everything You Need to Know About TV Everywhere”

  1. As a Dish Network employee I have played around with the sling adapter and decided to get it my self. I think everyone should buy into TV everywhere, being able to connect a sling adapter to your compatible 722 receiver if you have DISH. DISH also offers Dish remote access to allow you to set recordings and pull up your recordings!

  2. Dan, we are there already. I can stream live TV or things recorded on my DVR from anywhere that I’m at. And unlike Hulu or the cable company offerings, I have no country based restrictions. DISH Network got behind placeshifting early on in the game and is leading the pack with the TV Everywhere. As an employee, I was fortunate enough to pick up my Sling Adapter right when it was launched and it has made my life so much more convenient.

  3. I thought this was going to finally be live streaming video content of cable channels and tv. It’s another HULU, YouTube nation but with cable & network consignment. How about live streaming as if you turned on your tv. That alone would be “new”. This seems so far, just to be another video membership site with the only difference being you’re attached by your account. I guess it’s a step in the right direction. But in this day of fast technology this seems rather slow.
    Even my CNN iPhone App allows for live news (sometimes). That would be key. My account used on my phone, then laptop then tv through my MacBook. If not, it’s just on-demand by proxy.

  4. They really mean “$$ everywhere”, dont they. It’s not good enough to get living room $$, they also want the bedroom $$ and the kids room $$ and probably the mobile $$ ….

  5. What she REALLY means if that you’ll no longer be able to watch free episodes on,,, and so on. What is currently free will be removed from those sites and locked behind a Comcast website. I will no longer be able to watch Greek or Stargate Universe (since I’m not a cable subscriber).

    They are trying to sell this as an “improvement” but I’m not seeing it.

    • I’m not totally against programming not being free on network websites. They only get to place them on the web because of paying customers & ad revenue. If it were all available for free on the web there would be no reason eventually for cable customers to pay for cable service. Then those companies couldn’t afford to air the programming free on the web. It’s a catch 22. Each ad is paid for by having customers buy their products. Networks rely on that ad spending because customers bought those products. With cable, it’s not as much run by ads as it is by subscription. No subscriptions may mean more ads to watch but on the web more people wouldn’t watch those ads which means less funding for programming. Its’ an unavoidable conundrum. I hope you got that because I’m starting to confuse myself

  6. InTheKnow

    Shout it from the mountain tops: TV Everywhere serves 2 purposes for the cable operator…confuse the market with an appearance of cable company progressiveness while holding a stick over the heads of cable and broadcast nets to take their content down from the open Internet. It’s a classic defensive/delay move by Roberts and Bewkes to appease current subscribers, the Street, and Congress (regarding cap limitations).

    The cable operator wins, consumers lose.

    This is about keeping Amazon, Netflix, Apple, and the CE manufacturers from going over the top and killing the closed operator system. It’s about churning out as much cash as possible, as fast as possible. It’s about delaying innovation for the sake of maintaining margins.

  7. i’m sorry but i will never subscribe to hbo just to watch bill maher. even if i wanted to watch anything else on it (like curb your enthusiasm) i just don’t have the time.
    illegal downloading it is.

  8. sounds illegal

    This desperate maneuver doesn’t address the fact that there is much more entertainment available on the Internet than can be found on cable or satellite. Bottom line, the Internet is leveling the playing field and destroying monopolies.

  9. Emily — This is Lynsey from Comcast. On Demand Online will be available to customers in Comcast service areas. In terms of “everywhere” we want to expand choices and bring more content–content that hasn’t been available before–to various platforms (TV, online, etc.) so it’s a more convenient viewing experience.

  10. Echoing Emily’s comment above — TV Everywhere (in the US) or… er… everywhere?

    It’s as if legacy media companies are still approaching the Internet as the Inter-State.

    Or instead of the www – maybe we should more accurately dub these ‘initiatives’ the “uww”…

  11. Does “TV everywhere” really mean “TV everywhere but only if you live in the US”? What about the rest of the world? When will geographic restrictions be lifted or even raised as an issue on panels related to TV online.