TWC: ESPN Online All About Screwing Around at Work

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Time Warner Cable (s TWC) announced today that ESPN’s (s DIS) TV Everywhere offering will go live next Monday, just in time for the network’s Monday Night Football matchup between the NY Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. But let’s be honest, the vast majority of cable subs won’t be watching MNF online, but on the big-screen TV — and Time Warner Cable knows that.

Despite the fact that NBC Sports’ (s GE) Sunday Night Football has been streaming live online for the last two years, it hasn’t eaten in to the live broadcast ratings. On the contrary, Sunday Night Football continues to boast its best ratings in years, and has been the top-rated show on primetime TV that night six weeks running.

Time Warner Cable, no doubt, expects the same results from making live and on-demand content from ESPN available online through an authenticated connection. Instead of cannibalizing its TV audience for live events like Monday Night Football, Jeff Simmermon, director of digital communications for Time Warner Cable, said in a blog post today that the ESPN TV Everywhere deal is all about helping people screw around at work. From the post:

[L]et’s call this thing what it is. It’s the mother of all value-adds to the biggest audience of all: the screwing-around-at-work network. The entire Internet economy is built on simultaneously enhancing and destroying workplace productivity, and now that’s going to a WHOLE new level.

Now our customers don’t have to sneak out to sports bars during March Madness or pull little radios out of their desks during the World Series. Now our customers can stream all the sports they like all day long — whether they’re at home, at the doctor’s office, or sleepwalking their way through an important conference call.

I’m in favor of making more live sports content available online, so ESPN creating a TV Everywhere offering is definitely a good thing. But at the same time, if anecdotal evidence of workplace productivity dropping during events like March Madness are any indication, more cable providers adopting the authenticated ESPN service could be bad news for U.S. employers.

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