TV Everywhere is a drag, TV Everywhere execs say

Points for honesty: During a panel discussion at the 2013 Cable Show in Washington, DC, today, a group of network executives charged with overseeing their companies’ TV Everywhere deployments were nearly unanimous in saying they wish they didn’t have to do TV Everywhere.

Asked by the moderator whether their TV Everywhere strategy was primarily offensive or defensive, Rob Thun of Univision, Mike Biard of Fox, and Ron Lamprecht of NBC Universal agreed their strategy is primarily defensive.

“It’s important to do because we’re trying to preserve the pay-TV ecosystem,” Thun said, somewhat glumly.

“The really isn’t any choice ,” but to offer TV Everywhere, Lamprecht added.

“The content is on these platforms, on these devices already,” offered Biard. “To assume we can un-ring that bell and pull it back is sort of silly at this point.” TV Everywhere, he said, “is simply a recognition of what is happening anyway.”

Turner Broadcasting senior VP for business development and multiplatform programming, Jeremy Legg, tried to change the subject. “TV Everywhere is not a product, it’s a project, it’s an initiative, it’s really a way of thinking,” he said. “In the press people are always comparing [TV Everywhere] to Netflix, and saying we’re not available everywhere like Netflix. But it’s not the same thing. Netflix is a product. TV Everywhere is not a product that needs to be rolled out in a particular way.”

The problem, of course, is that TV Everywhere has become a necessary cost of doing business — both for programmers and service providers — with as yet no way to monetize the effort because most off-TV viewing is not measured by Nielsen.

“Programmers get roughly $40 billion a year in distribution and affiliate fees, and roughly another $40 billion from advertising, so content is worth a lot of money” Comcast’s senior VP of video services Marcien Jenckes said. “Every year content costs go up, every year consumers’ expectations go up. But there’s a lot of content available on these other platforms [e.g. Netflix, Hulu, etc.] for less money than we charge. The consumer’s expectation is the experience they get from these other services. If we don’t meet that then we’re simply devaluing the content.”

Heckuva business model.