Everything You Need to Know About TV Everywhere

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 and Time Warner Inc. (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.

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