August 9, 2011
by Ron Frankel
Today’s consumers want TV content not just in the web browser, but on smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles — you name it. However, for “TV Everywhere” (TVE) to succeed, the industry cannot simply offer content on a multitude of devices — it must also ace the viewer’s search and discovery experience. Enter, metadata.
Metadata is the in-depth descriptive information about programming that includes title, storyline, cast, genre, release date, images and more. It drives TVE forward by powering search, discovery and content personalization, and creates the potential for new revenue streams through enhanced product placements and targeted advertising. Similar to how the remote control once empowered viewers to browse through channels, multi-device TV viewing requires detailed metadata that allows consumers to effortlessly discover the content they want to watch across multiple platforms. HBO gets it. Using HBO GO, True Blood fanatics can now find and stream their favorite episodes, or any of actress Anna Paquin’s performances, via smartphones, tablets and the web.
Competitive Advantage Through Comprehensive Search & Discovery
And the company that successfully aggregates, organizes and integrates metadata will not only transform the viewer experience, but will create new revenue streams by leveraging metadata to index consumer behavior — a highly valued commodity for advertisers.
Comcast and other cable giants have another advantage: their access to licensed video content online and the ability to power content playback. Startup tech companies lack — and may never gain — the rights to offer premium content to their customers. Unlike Google TV or Clicker, which provide limited solutions, Comcast can offer a more comprehensive search experience for cable subscribers that combines free material from sites like Hulu and YouTube with premium content. Authentication is made possible by credentials cable subscribers receive from their MSO, telecom company or satellite video providers. Services like HBO GO and CNN’s recent live streaming, combined with the emergence of other TV Everywhere platforms are making consumers more aware of the value of these credentials.
While some consumers will visit their cable operator’s website to find content, others will migrate to the specific shows and brands they know. Networks are beginning to recognize they can utilize their brand equity to offer viewers programming anytime, anywhere. By leveraging their successful introduction of mobile applications (10 million mobile app downloads across all devices), news giant CNN recently launched two live, 24-hour news channels specifically designed for online, mobile and tablet viewing.
The Social Viewing Experience and the Future
The eventual integration of social media into the online and mobile viewing experience will force the industry to expand its current definition of metadata to include the behavioral element. Beyond simply tagging social updates during a broadcast, Facebook is now distributing Warner Brothers content. And HBO Connect is pushing the viewing experience envelope by creating a social and entertainment hub that empowers consumers to be more than passive viewers, but active participants in a larger conversation.
Utilizing metadata, brands can efficiently track consumer habits to better place relevant and targeted advertisements. No more seeing the same ad over and over again on Hulu. Free from television’s strict programming schedule and advertising model, online entertainment offers an innovative and agile platform tailored for targeted promotions. Startups like Anyclip are getting onboard the metadata bandwagon by tagging full-length motion pictures with up to 5,000 individual elements, utilizing almost everything seen onscreen and analyzing that data in real-time for advertisers and deep search alike. The goal? To serve up relevant advertising and make the content much more searchable and discoverable for consumers.
The Obstacles to Changing a Ninety-Year-Old Business Model
TV Everywhere threatens to completely disrupt a ninety-year-old business model. Updating the status quo can be costly and involve battling lethargic legacy systems. One of the largest obstacles delaying the successful integration of TVE into the entertainment landscape is the inability for programmers and content owners to agree on entitlement rights. This disconnect between digital and broadcast rights reduces the overall benefit of TV Everywhere by potentially alienating subscribers and weakening revenue streams.
Further complicating the process and frustrating subscribers is the entanglement of ownership rights for each program. Netflix’s recent deal with Lionsgate for the streaming rights to Mad Men is a great example. Fans who want to tune in online to find the latest Draper drama will not find the show through search on their cable company’s or AMC’s website. Instead, they must subscribe to Netflix to view the syndicated episodes. Case in point: Content is increasingly scattering all over the Internet, and it’s difficult for the consumer to keep up. Fragmentation of the distribution channels means fragmentation of dollars — and eyeballs, as well.
The “I want my TV Everywhere” rally cry will only get louder — evidenced by over 3 million downloads of HBO GO. And as consumers enjoy the benefits of multi-platform viewing and become increasingly educated about what is rightfully theirs, they’ll begin to question their own purchasing decisions on sites like iTunes and Amazon. For the industry to fully capitalize on TVE, viewers must have a robust search and discovery experience. Lacking metadata, Google, Yahoo!, Hulu, Netflix simply can’t deliver. It’s a case of the haves and have-nots. With TV Everywhere, cable operators, telecoms and satellite providers are the haves.