Updated: 9 Questions About TV Everywhere

UPDATE: We spoke with Matt Strauss, Comcast senior vice president of new media, who gave us some answers to the questions we posed earlier. Learn about authentication limits, HD availability and what info you’ll need to provide after the jump.

As you might have read, we were a little underwhelmed with Comcast and Time Warner’s TV Everywhere announcement this morning. Rather than digging in to what authentication will look like, the CEOs for both companies spoke in lofty, euphoric terms, where putting cable programming behind a subscription wall is peachy keen and we all get access to online video on Lollipop Lane.

We don’t mind authentication in theory, it’s the practice that makes us shudder (Comcast customer service, anyone?). Here are nine questions (Ed. note: Now with some answers!) we would like answered to put our minds at ease:

  1. How will I be authenticated? What information will I need to provide? How will it work?
    Initially, this trial will run with Comcast.net customers and authentication will involve an ID and password as well as the user’s MAC address.
  2. How expansive is the authentication? If I’m in a family of four, can I authenticate my one account multiple times? Can we all watch simultaneously but on separate computers?
    Comcast will be trying out different amounts of authentication per household, but Strauss indicated that it would most likely be similar to iTunes where a certain number of devices are allowed.
  3. Will it really be “free” to existing subscribers, or will cable companies just sneak in a higher fees elsewhere?
    (No answer for this question yet.)
  4. What content will be available and how long will the window to watch be? Will it truly be “OnDemand,” or will it be like Hulu, where a limited number of episodes are available at a given time?
    What content, when it’s available and how long the viewing window is will be up to the networks, though Strauss said the networks have an incentive to get content up sooner so it can be counted in the Nielsen ratings.
  5. Why are cable companies encouraging consumers to go online and watch video on the one hand, and then slapping them with broadband caps and metered access with the other?
    (No answer for this question yet.)
  6. What will this do to Hulu?
    Strauss said that Comcast isn’t dismissing anyone as a potential partner and the company’s goal is to make content available on any platform.
  7. Will TV Everywhere content be streamed in HD?
    Content will be available in both SD and HD.
  8. How portable will the content be?
    Strauss didn’t speak to this directly, but did say that Comcast-owned thePlatform is working on a part of the authentication system that provides the ability to download content to authenticated devices.
  9. Who are the technical providers for TV Everywhere (formats, DRM, etc.)?
    Strauss would only say that Comcast is working with Move Networks and that content security is a top priority for the company.
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