Time Warner and Comcast held a press briefing this morning to provide some details about the much anticipated “TV Everywhere” project that Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes has been discussing for a few months including during a panel at The Cable Show back in early April. Joining Bewkes for today’s briefing was Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.
The main takeaway from today’s briefing is that Comcast and Time Warner will begin a trial to provide 5,000 Comcast customers access to cable programming (TBS and TNT for now) on a platform (the computer screen) where it wasn’t previously available, for no additional charge. It is no more complicated than that.
The primary details released today include a set of principles that the companies agreed to:
- Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms.
- Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge.
- Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection.
- Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online.
- Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication.
- A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms.
- TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.
You can check out this story from CNET’s Marguerite Reardon – Comcast and Time Warner team up to deliver TV online – for a complete recap.
More details about the trial will undoubtedly be forthcoming, but the immediate knee-jerk negativity by some in the blogosphere was not only predictable, but uninformed.
But thankfully, there are also some more reasoned voices weighing in that recognize the potential of this announcement to bring real benefits to consumers by offering them access to more content in more places. Will Richmond from VideoNuze boldly declares:
Despite what some skeptics say, consumers also stand to gain. All that great cable programming that’s been locked to the set-top box in the home would now be available online. It sort of like cable’s version of on demand Sling, but without any upfront or monthly charge (at least that’s what we’re hearing for now).
Richmond takes a more rational view that this model is one that benefits both programmers and consumers, but they still need to work out some of the technical issues:
Comcast and Time Warner are taking a solid step forward in delivering more value to their subscribers who increasingly live their lives online. Now they need to tamp down the hype and just focus on executing in a logical, user-friendly way.
The rest of Richmond’s post is available here and he also aptly highlights some of the challenges that this trial will face including the necessary business model issues that the free lunch crowd tend to ignore.