At NAB 2016 I had the pleasure of moderating a discussion entitled TV Everywhere – Meeting the Multi-Screen Challenge. It became very clear from the panel of experts that in their view the day when TV Everywhere becomes pay TV, rather than just an add-on, is just around the corner.
I started by asking Barry Tishgart, VP of IP Services for Comcast Wholesale, when multiscreen viewing will eclipse television viewing with a set-top box.
In some parts of the world multiscreen viewing already eclipses television viewing. In the US, where you have a higher level of pay TV penetration, you can look to the consumer device growth and the connected TVs. The time they <viewers> spend watching something on their connected devices, even while they’re watching TV, shows it can happen really soon, in the next couple of years.”
I asked John Bishop, CTO Media at Akamai, when TV Everywhere becomes what pay TV is? He walked through the evolution of the Internet as a video platform, concluding that it was already delivering pay TV quality experiences:
We chased television to get the same resolution. It took a long time for Internet video to get to standard definition, then we had to get to high definition, and adjust framerates. There are three things that influence quality: resolution, framerate and bitrate. In the last year Internet delivery has caught TV from a resolution, framerate and bitrate perspective. Now we really have a level playing field, you don’t have a second class experience going to an Internet feed. We have a lot of our customers that are traditional TV providers that are getting longer times spent watching today on Internet and TV Everywhere feeds than they are on their traditional television feeds.”
Jeremy Helfand, VP of Adobe Primetime, pointed out that many consumers are already passed the point of holding the television set up as an exceptional experience.
From the consumer perspective, TV is no longer the device, it is the content. The expectation from the consumer is they should be able to get their content when, where and how they want. Major temple events like the Olympics have always been defining moments from consumer expectations because they’ve taught another generation of consumers that there’s an opportunity to view content in a multiscreen way.”
To illustrate his point, Mr. Helfand quoted new data from The Diffusion Group that shows that in streaming homes 42% of householder’s viewing time is spent using streaming services. In other words, streaming consumers are already most of the way toward the time when multiscreen services best the traditional television experience.
Himesh Bhise, CEO of Synacor, brought us back to basics, asking, and answering, the simple question what is TV Everywhere?
It’s your pay TV package that you’ve already paid for, getting access to it across devices. If you keep it as simple as that, it becomes less about the actual set-top box, and more about where and how you’re watching your platform. When the Internet is increasing in its capabilities and its efficiencies, my take is we’re moving to IP based technology whether we like it or not. All the innovation to get us there is already underway.”
Though you can debate the relative importance of one video device over another, one thing was very clear from all of the panelists: it is the service experience that counts, not the particular device that delivers it.