TV Everywhere is a broad church, incorporating the fast growing services which take you across multiple devices inside the home, right through to nascent services which travel with you outside your own four walls.
One thing is certain: it’s a growth trend which consumers are embracing. Analyst Mohammed Hamza of SNL Kagan takes us through their latest research into the phenomenon that is TV Everywhere.
Strong TV Everywhere – by which we usually mean accessing content across multiple screens and devices within the home – would appear to be good news for operators as well as subscribers, contributing to stability in the subscriber base. Moreover, its performance provides new opportunities for revenue growth via deeper customer engagement and the ability to sell targeted advertising across connected screens.
Comparing the latest data collected against that from the surveys conducted in October 2012 and July 2013, you could argue that it has been the satellite operators who have embraced the more consistent marketing approach to TV Everywhere. Fewer pay TV operators on other platforms have followed such a consistent approach to building a marketing message, hindered in part by a more fragmented roll-out and difficulties in service applications at launch.
However this picture is quickly changing as intense competition in this area drives a faster pace of innovation across other platforms. Between Liberty Global’s Horizon platform and TiVo Inc. on cable as well as renewed efforts from IPTV players, continued next-generation roll-outs mean that rival TVE services to those offered by satellite are quickly and effectively overcoming early challenges that included the lack of multiscreen rights and TV platforms in early maturity.
In some respects cable TV Everywhere services have progressed at a slower pace compared to rival platforms, as operators in some geographic regions focussed on upgrading core TV services. But this picture is rapidly changing, and the research is now showing that as of February 2014 cable is comfortably on a par with other platforms with 78% of the 23 cable operators reviewed having launched a TV Everywhere service. This sits alongside the parallel 78% of satellite operators offering such a service, and IPTV operators at 76%. In terms of centralised home gateway technologies, Virgin Media Ltd’s partnership with video recorder pioneer TiVo and Liberty Global’s Horizon projects have the highest visibility in seven countries, representing 50% of major cable territories in the region. Horizon launched in the Netherlands and Switzerland during the second half of 2012, with other markets joining during 2013. Liberty reported 500,000 Horizon TV subscribers at end 2013 in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland. TiVo in the UK launched in the first quarter of 2011 on the Virgin Media platform, reaching 2 million subscribers at end 2013, while Ono’s TiVo service, which launched at end-2011 in Spain, hit 323,000. In October 2013, TiVo launched in Sweden on ComHem’s network and upgraded 38,000 customers to the service.
Cable operators also continue to ramp up support for smartphone and tablet video apps as well as for live TV channels, with support for each of the services increasing from 57% of surveyed cable operators as of May 2013 to 78% as of Feb 2014. Moreover, cable operators now support significantly more live channels compared with satellite. The number of live TV channels accessible via TV Everywhere with ComHem, for instance, was up to 140, while the majority of operators are offering at least 30 channels. Satellite operators on average support around 30 live channels but tend to focus more on specific live events or content.
For IPTV operators, bundled services have been the goal from the start, while much of the earlier platform development focused on providing basic TV services as opposed to more advanced services. To compete against incumbent cable and satellite operator key content supremacy, IPTV players have had to break down more walls to get noticed. IPTV operators have progressed since the last survey, with 76% (was 72%) of the 29 IPTV operators covered offering VOD as part of their TV Everywhere service. However, 79% (previously 90%) offered live TV, typically with more than 30 channels, with the decline due to cancellation of services, including Vodaphone TV in Spain and Norwegian incumbent telco Telenor ASA’s Comoyo service, among others.
A number of IPTV operators, including Swisscom AG continue to provide stand-alone mobile TV alongside a TV Everywhere offer, while others, including Telekom Austria Group’s A1 mobile TV and France Telecom Group’s Orange in Switzerland, have evolved those services to a more complete offering.
In summary, as part of operators’ TV network business model innovation, TVE plays a critical role for long-term competition, growth and ARPU, whilst building stability on value – especially in increasingly saturated and hypercompetitive markets. Getting TV Everywhere right will also put operators on a better footing to launch “lite” pay TV and OTT services. The key takeaways are consistent approaches as well as openness via APIs to enable third party app developer participation and to ensure the universality of apps.