NBCUniversal delivered more than 100 million video streams during the recent London Olympic Games, and the almost across-the-board coverage of the events further underscored the value of TV Everywhere services.
According to a survey by the National Inflation Association (NIA), nearly 10 million pay-TV subscribers in the United States authenticated themselves on their laptops, iPads and iPhone devices to access Olympic coverage by NBCUniversal in the first 10 days of coverage. During the same timeframe, NBCUniversal offered 45 million live streams of Olympic events.
The Olympic Games were a high water mark for TV Everywhere services because of the amount of live streams that were offered to authenticated customers and the number of service providers, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Mediacom, to name a few, that were serving them up through deals with NBCUniversal.
A few basic tenets for TV Everywhere services rang true in the National Inflation Association’s survey. The first was that 74 percent of the respondents said that TV Everywhere services, such as the Olympic coverage, made them more likely to keep their pay-TV subscriptions in the future due to the value that they received at no additional cost. So TV Everywhere services do have the ability to reduce video subscriber churn, which is something cable operators can hang their hats on to partially offset the loss of basic video subscribers over the past few years.
Even if the Olympic streams weren’t free as part of subscribers’ existing TV tiers, 42 percent of the users said they would pay at least $15 for access, with 14 percent of users saying they would pay $60 or more.
The authentication process for TV Everywhere services no longer frustrates users. Of the 1,513 who responded to the NIA’s survey from Friday through Sunday’s closing ceremony, 40 percent said that they successfully authenticated their Internet-connected devices. Of those that authenticated themselves, 58 percent rated the authentication process a 10, with 10 representing the most easy and convenient and 1 being the most difficult and confusing. Half of 1 percent of the authenticated users rated the authentication process a 1.
The NIA, which recently bought a 2 percent stake in TV Everywhere vendor Synacor, said that 68 percent of the users felt that TV Everywhere services “could offer a tremendous ground-floor investment opportunity.”
One of the driving forces for subscribers accessing the live streams was NBCUniversal's decision to delay showing marquee events until the evening broadcast instead of showing them live during the day, according to the survey. When asked what motivated them to use NBCUniversal's Olympic TV Everywhere service, the largest response came from 49 percent of users who wanted to watch the events live before they aired on TV.
Pay-TV companies received low marks for not advertising their TV Everywhere services, with 65 percent saying their providers almost never advertised the TV Everywhere offerings. On the plus side, 42 percent said they planned to explore their TV Everywhere options after seeing NBCUniversal’s Olympic coverage.
Keeping in mind that the NIA has a vested interest in TV Everywhere services, its survey also broke down which browsers worked the best for the live streams, how the devices performed and highlighted the need for better advertising on TV Everywhere offerings.
While TV Everywhere offerings date back to 2009 with Comcast and Time Warner, the Olympic streams were further proof that TV Everywhere services are poised for a watershed year in 2012.