Imagine being able to get live news updates from one of the top cable news network on your PC, iPhone or iPad in beautiful HD quality. That day is coming soon, as earlier this week, CNN demoed its new TV Everywhere video offerings to an audience at SXSW. During the conference, CNN (s TWX) Digital General Manager KC Estenson showed off high-quality video and multiplatform capabilities that will enable viewers to watch customized video streams wherever they are and on whichever devices they choose. The only catch? To do so you have to be a pay TV subscriber with CNN as part of your video package.
Check out his presentation embedded below:
For those who don’t have time to check out the 10-minute demo, here are the main features:
- 16×9 format HD-quality video online, with up to 6 Mbps bit rate encoding.
- Availability on the iPhone, iPad, Google (s GOOG) TV-powered connected devices and soon Android mobile phones and tablets.
- The ability to create personal playlists — in a sense, the ability to create and program a CNN channel based on your own interests.
- Access to short-form video clips, entire on-demand episodes and live streaming of the shows that are currently on TV.
- The ability to pause, as well as scrub live video backward and forward.
- Pause and shut down a stream on one device, such as a PC, and resume watching on another device — like an iPad.
It’s all very cool and pretty forward-thinking for a legacy cable network, except for one thing: These features will only work for news junkies that happen to also be cable subscribers, and who happen to have a TV Everywhere login. In the demo, participating pay TV partners that have TV Everywhere services enabled included Comcast, (s CMCSA) Verizon, (s VZ) Dish Network (s DISH) and Cox Communications. While there will likely be more partners that will authenticate with the service once it launches later this summer, if you’re not a subscriber you’re out of luck if you want to take advantage of CNN’s new features.
There’s that old Stewart Brand adage that information wants to be free, but it also wants to be expensive. As a commodity business with a number of online sources, news is one vertical where serious value can be created through cool technological tricks like those that Estenson shows off in the demo. At the same time, putting it behind a TV Everywhere pay wall will limit its usefulness to a number of users.
For serious CNN junkies, that won’t be a problem, as they’re likely pay TV viewers. But everyone else will simply need to find their online video news fix elsewhere.