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Comcast, Time Warner Expand TV Everywhere

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It’s been approximately 18 months since Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) first talked up TV Everywhere, but their authentication strategy has finally come to pass: a multi-year commitment to put hundreds of hours of Turner Broadcasting programming online for Comcast subscribers was announced Tuesday.

The free programming will be available shortly after initial airing via Comcast portal, Comcast On Demand and Turner’s web sites, as well as any iPad, iPhone and Android-based tablets and phone applications. Turner Broadcasting includes TNT, TBS, CNN, HLN, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.

Cable operators are hoping TV Everywhere will be an effective counterattack to the increasing tide of online viewing that they have not been able to monetize. And then there is the so-called cord-cutting phenomenon, which has allowed a small segment of viewers to get rid of their cable subscriptions and subsist on internet-only free viewing.

One unexpected piece of the announcement was the planned deployment of live streaming as well of select programs, but that component isn’t ready yet.

The programming that is part of TV Everywhere will be measured by Nielsen C3 ratings beginning in mid-2011 regardless of whether its being watched on TV or online.

Here’s some more detail on the deal based on an interview with Jeremy Legg, senior vice president of business development and multi-platform distribution for Turner Broadcasting:

CNN will likely be the first Turner network that will be available for live streaming. That would make the network’s linear feed available 24/7 across devices regardless of whether a subscriber is out of the home or using Comcast as an ISP. “The news lends itself to a live environment but all of that would be on an authenticated basis,” said Legg, who said no timetable has been set yet for live streaming.

That will likely mean CNN will be the first of a fleet of Turner-branded apps that will be coming to tablets.

Not every show will be available on every platform covered under the TV Everywhere deal because some programs may grant Turner rights to VOD exhibition and not internet exhibition or vice versa. “Those issues have to be worked out with our studio partners,” said Legg.

In addition, not every series will have entire seasons of episodes available for on-demand access, according to Legg, who would not specify which programs would or wouldn’t go that route. That could mean Hulu Plus will maintain a competitive advantage

The expansion of Turner content to Comcast under the TV Everywhere initiative will be gradual in the coming months, with new channels joining TBS and TNT, which have already been up for the past 12 months on a trial basis.

Not all content covered under the deal will be available the morning after a program’s initial airdate. The reality of moving mass quantities of programming is that while it can be done relatively quickly on broadband, content ingestion is slower to get to VOD because it involves reaching hundreds of headends.

At the very least, you’ll see most TV Everywhere within three days because the goal is to have as much programming measured as possible by Nielsen’s C3 standard. For those first three days, programming will have the same commercials as it did during its initial airdate. But beginning with the fourth day, programming will be converted to a digital ad load, which means different, and possibly less, commercials. “There will be a level of experimentation between how may ads work on day-four-plus,” said Legg.