Infonetics chartConsumers want to watch their videos anytime, anywhere and on any device, but content licensing issues are shackling those efforts, according to a recent study.

Infonetics Research pinged pay-TV operators in regard to their multi-screen video services and delivering live and file-based content to subscribers across multiple devices.

“Multi-screen services are quickly becoming a critical service for pay-TV operators worldwide,” said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access and pay TV at Infonetics Research. “By keeping attention focused on the content they’re providing, operators keep subscribers and advertisers happy.”

“But significant challenges remain, particularly when it comes to securing licensing arrangements with content owners that are concerned about the security of their content in a multi-screen world,” said Julien Blin, Infonetics’ directing analyst for consumer electronics and mobile broadband. “This is also one of the major hurdles to offering a la carte cable content, a hot topic these days.”

Among the respondents, securing content licensing deals was the No. 1 business challenge facing pay-TV operators, followed by managing subscriber expectations and the cost and complexity of dealing with third-party video CDN providers.

In regard to licensing agreements, cable operators have long-term relationships with most of the networks and other content providers, and users of the multi-screen services have to authenticate themselves before viewing the video content.

While Time Warner and Comcast first embarked down the TV Everywhere path in 2009, there’s still some wrangling over who, the content owners or video providers, is best suited to maintain the customer relationships.

Not surprisingly, Infonetics found that the need to reduce churn and increase customer loyalty was rated a top business driver among the respondents to its survey. In addition to reducing churn in the wake of basic video subscriber losses over the past few years, pay-TV operators can also generate some incremental revenues with multi-screen services through advertising.

The survey also found that nearly half of survey respondents supported tablets as part of their multi-screen service today, growing to 100 percent by next year.

When it came to supporting mobile operating systems as part of a multi-screen service, 40 percent of the operators interviewed preferred the Android and iOS platforms.