Time Warner and Comcast formalized their partnership on the “TV Everywhere” initiative that has been brewing for some time.
This morning Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts and Time Warner Inc. CEO and Chairman Jeff Bewkes held a press conference in New York City to detail the two companies’ plans to provide subscribers with TV shows over the Internet.
The partnership between Comcast and Time Warner will make it possible for Comcast customers to access programming from Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting networks for free online and on-demand content.
TV Everywhere, or Comcast’s name of On Demand Online, is a rearguard action by the cable industry to stave off free content from over-the-top video providers such as Hulu. The cable industry forks out a lot of money to pay for programming that customers view on their TV sets, but cable executives have expressed concern that online video providers would turn cable’s broadband service into a “dump pipe.”
In response to the over-the-top threat, Time Warner and Comcast have been looking at ways to authenticate whether a viewer logging on to a Web site is also one of their cable subscribers.
Comcast said it will begin a national technical trial of its On Demand Online service next month with programming from Turner networks TNT and TBS. The trial will offer Comcast’s subscribers more free content from Turner networks than was previously available, including shows such as TNT’s “The Closer”and “Saving Grace,”as well as the TBS lineup, including “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns” and “My Boys.”
“Today’s announcement is all about giving our customers exponentially more free content, more choice and more HD programming online, as well as on TV,” Roberts said. “We have been working for a year to bring more TV and movie content to our customers online, and we are thrilled that Time Warner is joining us in our national technical trial. Ultimately, our goal is to make TV content available to our customers on all platforms.”
The On Demand Online technical trial will involve premium, long-form content with approximately 5,000 customers. The trial period will be dedicated to testing the new authentication technology on a national basis that will enable secured access to the content.
The shows will be initially accessible on Comcast.net and Comcast’s Web portal Fancast.com, and it will soon be available on TNT.tv and TBS.com.
Comcast and Time Warner said the national trial will give customers an opportunity to test drive the service and provide feedback that will help shape the service over time. The initial trial is the first phase of a multi-phase rollout that will expand the amount of content, features and functionality of the service as subsequent versions are implemented.
In the coming weeks, Comcast expects other programming networks to participate as the nationwide trial expands, while Time Warner expects to announce similar trials with other distributors.
Time Warner Cable has been proofing its version of the TV Everywhere concept over the past several months in Wisconsin.
In order to speed up the adoption of the TV Everywhere model, Time Warner and Comcast agreed on a set of principles, including:
- 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.