Some more details on *Time Warner* Cable’s TV Everywhere push, announced this morning, but calling it a trial still lets the cable operator avoid the hard questions like when it will be more than a gimmick available to a relative handful of subscribers, whether programmers will let their shows be used at no additional charge and whether advertisers will buy in. Networks taking part so far include TBS, TNT, HBO, CBS (NYSE: CBS), Syfy, BBC America, AMC, WE tv, IFC, Sundance Channel, Discovery Communications (NSDQ: DISCA) and Smithsonian Channel. The second-largest U.S. cable operator promises to provide “many” shows not available to its subscribers online now and to make some shows available online “more quickly following their original airdates than they are currently.”
Not a lot of new ground broken there save for the inclusion of NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) via Syfy, which already shows plenty of ad-supported full episodes to anyone who will click. No Bravo, though, or USA, making it one alien toe in the swamp so far. The Wall Street Journal reported that Viacom (NYSE: VIA) would be taking part but MTV Networks isn’t in the initial batch. (Yes, that’s the same Viacom TWC was fighting with publicly at year’s end over web access devaluing its cable video content.)
It sounds like there’s time for more nets to be on the launch: TWC couldn’t be more vague about where and when, saying only that it will launch the TV Everywhere trials “in select markets over the next few months” to about 5,000 cable subscribers. That’s literally a sliver of the 8.8 million video subs TWC claims across 28 states including New York, California and Texas.
Update: Meanwhile, Verizon has signed on to TV Everywhere, too, complete with a quote from TW CEO Jeff Bewkes. Verizon wants everyone to know its FiOS is a “multi-screen leader” and says it’s “taking the lead.” But Verizon is far behind Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and TWC when it comes to programming: the trial is launching only with TNT and TBS, networks from TV Everywhere evangelist Time (NYSE: TWX) Warner’s Turner. It’s also offering fewer details about the size and scope of its trial, although it does say FiOS subs will be able to use their Verizon Online logins. Release.
Update 2: AP reports that DirecTV (NYSE: DTV), which is working on its own multi-platform concept, is also in negotiations with Turner. And this is a shock? Turner is the easy first date here. Bewkes has said all along that his vision of TV Everywhere isn’t limited to cable but is for any multichannel video subscription service. Verizon’s inclusion is the first example. DirecTV, which added video subs last quarter (while Comcast lost them), needs a way to compete with the cable operators on VOD — something that’s not so easy for a satellite company. Broadband programming would give DirecTV and its subscribers that kind of flexibility. For now, DirecTV’s highest-profile experiment in broadband is the opposite of multiplatform — the company is selling broadband-only subscriptions of its NFL Sunday Ticket package in Manhattan to people who can’t get DirecTV reception.