Monday, September 17, 2012

The Long Rough Road to "TV Everywhere"

    The idea of “TV Everywhere”  has been taking hold over the last year or so. While more and more providers are beginning to embrace the idea of making their content available on a number of platforms. There are still a few problems to be solved.

  One major stumbling block is the national broadband rollout. As with all government projects things take longer than planned;

In order to bring  the concept of “TV Everywhere” into a reality as it  has been hyped, much needs to  be done on the back end with infrastructure  both for wired networking, ie; DSL, Cable, and Google’s Fiber to the home, and other land lines, along with wireless networking, both in 3g, and 4g also known as LTE. On that front much needs to be done. Consumers need simple to understand and use data plans, and devices that can handle whatever network they happen to be on. Right now the wireless market is fragmented , each provider has their own ideas for data plans. As with text messaging, a  few years ago they charged per text, both incoming and outgoing, now they have evolved to a” all you can eat “ bundled with your regular plan. I suspect that  they’re still making money on the texting plans, although they’ll never  say it.
Now data is a whole another matter. The  wireless companies, ie; Verizon, AT&T and other have been trying to move consumers up from either a feature or basic phone to a “Smart Phone” now for about a year.  Anyone who has a smartphone, either Apples, or a Android, loves it. What they generally don’t love is the extra data package that have to pay for every month to make the thing work the way its supposed to.Which is  tolerable  if you only have one phone. What if you and your wife/husband both want a Smartphone? Then want to charge you a separate data plan for each phone. At a minimum of  30.00 each thats 60.00 on top of the rest to the bill. Verizon has announced their  “Share Everything” Plan which sounds good, and for some folks it might fit, although the concept is good, they need to refine it some more.

The charges per month to add a device  varies, however, I did find a page which list the charges for the different devices, the smartphone being the most expensive.
You can read the pricing structure at the link above. To my way of looking at it its backwards. Devices like a tablet are far more likely to use more data out the the data pool then the phones, even smartphones. The ability to use a device as a mobile hotspot will also increase data usage.
In short the confusion in the wireless sector is helping to keep “TV Everywhere” from getting the traction it needs in the wireless sector.

   Other aspects that are slowing “TV Everywhere” is the way content owners and providers are handling the media they own or control. Simply put ; greed and control.  While Netflix is famous for their breakthrough in  bringing streaming content to the masses. Which they’re doing a good job at minus a couple of setbacks last summer, when they tried separating the  streaming side from the DVD rental side,they created a huge backlash which they’re just getting over.
Now they’re looking to expand into other markets; ie other countries. All of which cost money. They have to pay license fees for all of the content they stream.  The content owners have been requiring ridiculous  amounts of money from streaming services like Netflix, and Amazon to allow them to stream their content.  Often these deal have very tight limitations which  can limit availability for other markets, or time frames.  
Content owners need to balance the need for money with the idea of making their content available to a number of vendors.
Venders such as Netflix and Amazon are caught between trying to make their prices affordable for consumers, and making enough to cover the cost, most of which are licensing fees.

    On the consumer side, it can be confusing. There are so many different  places to get content. Some have the same material as the others.
There are at least 6  streaming services out there. Which one is right for you depends on what platforms you want to use, and what type of content you are looking for.
Here is a article that compare 6 streaming services;
6 Streaming Services Compared
This will give you a general idea of what's out there.
As to adding a set top box to use to stream your content to your tv, There are several; Appletv, Roku, are the top two, along with Boxee , and several lesser known  streaming Set top boxes. Which one you choose depends on what you want to stream. Roku offers the best value for the money to me. The XS model will stream 1080 and has a usb plug on it allowing you to plug in a usb drive and play content directly off your usb drive to the tv. The selection of channels in increasing at a steady rate. You can find a wide variety  of niche content channels that specialize in content that traditional media wouldn’t touch either because its too narrow of  audience, or they won’t make enough money from it to justify  a investment.

    The adaptation of mobile devices by consumers to consume their media has driven content owners to rethink  how they distribute  and monetize  their media. This is one area that is still fragmented and likely will remain so for some time as content owners figure out how to track viewership and make deals that are fair to everyone.

   The road to “TV Everywhere” is still  young. While great strides have been made, particularly  on the OTT  side, much needs to be done on the mobile side. Along with more equitable  content licensing deals for venders.
The consumer is demanding more ease of use and the ability to take their content from one device to another without missing a frame. While in place and in some cases work very well, there is  little cross-platform  compatibility , which needs to happen to make “TV Everywhere” work.
In the end, there is still a long rough road to truly make the idealized concept of “TV Everywhere” work.