The pay TV industry is betting big on TV Everywhere, an initiative through which pay TV subscribers can get access to on-demand versions of their favorite channels online. But up until this point, the process for doing so was at the very least annoying and in some cases just plain unbearable.
Adobe thinks it has a solution to the authentication problem, and is introducing a new technology called Pass that will make it easier for users to log in once with their cable systems and gain access to on-demand cable content from multiple TV programmers. And given early adoption of the technology among some of the key players behind authenticated cable offerings, it seems likely that it could soon become the glue that holds the TV Everywhere vision together.
In fact, if you’ve used your pay TV account to log in to a cable network website like TBS.com or TNT.tv lately, you’re probably already used Adobe Pass. While Time Warner is obviously a big supporter, so too are pay TV providers like Comcast and Dish Network. That means that other cable networks and pay TV providers will be able to leverage the technology without much additional buildout or integration between programmers and distributors.
The nice thing about Adobe Pass, at least in my limited testing, is that once you’ve logged in on one authentication system, you’re more or less signed on to all of them. The ease with which consumers can log into — and stay logged into — TV Everywhere sites marks a stark contrast to the earliest implementation of an authenticated cable service, Comcast’s Fancast Xfinity TV. In the earliest iteration of that service, subscribers had to download an app that remained running while viewers streamed videos on the site. Unfortunately, the process of connecting that app didn’t work so well.
Lack of a great user experience could be one reason that TV Everywhere has yet to fully catch on — and to do so, it’s going to need a painless validation process for ensuring that subscribers have access to the content that they’ve paid for. By reducing some of the friction associated with multiple logins across multiple sites and devices, Adobe might actually help make TV Everywhere mainstream.