@ The Cable Show: Who doesn't love TV Everywhere?
HBO and ESPN couldn't be happier about TV Everywhere. Those two were among the first out of the gate distributing video to mobile devices.
HBO has had 2.6 million downloads of its HBO Go app. HBO senior vice president of digital platforms Alison Moore said she was shocked and delighted by how much distribution on mobile has increased video consumption for HBO.
Getting the ESPN mobile app up and running was "a tough row to hoe," said David Preschlack, executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing at Disney & ESPN Networks Group. "There were technology issues, business issues and rights issues. But I couldn't be more pleased."
Both were speaking at The Cable Show session called "TV Everywhere: The latest in cable's anytime, anywhere app-focused attitude."
Connectivity problems with 3G notwithstanding, picture quality and connectivity have been phenomenal, Preschlack said.
ESPN has tallied more than 2 million downloads of its app, mostly young urban males – "right in our demographic," Preschlack said. "Out-of-home viewing has been a significant benefit to our fans."
For HBO, it's all about penetration and engagement, Moore said. Preschlack could say the same thing, but not for much longer. Come November, ESPN Mobile, which has been ad-free thus far, will start showing ads, starting with certain college sports.
When asked if the ads would be the same ones delivered with the linear content or if they'd be targeted, Preschlack said they could be either or both. While HBO and ESPN are among the first examples of TV Everywhere, there's one significant distinction between the two. HBO provides almost exclusively on-demand content, while ESPN is providing content that is almost entirely live. "We think there's a massive advertising opportunity," he said.
Both are distributing video directly to people who subscribe to their channels through MVPDs that authenticate the subscribers, but there's always the worry that they'll go straight over the top.
Preschlack noted that ESPN has partnered with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. "We are invested with our multichannel partners," he said.
Moore said the whole point of going mobile was to underscore the value of the authenticated subscription.
And since the subject was brought up, authentication remains an issue, both Moore and Preschlack said. With regard to the distribution marketplace, Preschlack said, "We want to make the authentication process as seamless as possible."
On hand was Paul Heirendt, president and CEO of TradeHarbor, a company that performs voice authentication. Most mobile devices – certainly all smartphones – have microphones built in. TradeHarbor asserts that after a very short initial setup, it can positively authenticate any user in seconds by prompting them to say two short phrases.