Cable plans a massive ad campaign to drive customers to TV Everywhere this summer, but it will have to do more than just advertise. Confusion over in-home and out-of-home access could cause it to backfire.
For two weeks, from July 26 to August 8, cable operators and content partners will put on a marketing blitz across TV, websites and social media to encourage subscribers to “watch on the go”. All are keen to drive usage of TV Everywhere apps and websites to try and stem the huge transference of viewing that is occurring from traditional TV to services like Netflix and Hulu. Participants in the campaign are Comcast and NBCU, Cox Communications, Mediacom, A&E Networks, Turner Networks, HBO and Univision.
The idea is to let people know that while they’re on summer vacation they can still watch their favorite shows through their phones and tablets. Almost half of pay TV subscribers don’t know that their operator provide this feature.
The first challenge, however, is to get them to download the apps. According to Digitalsmiths more than 75% of pay TV subscribers have not bothered to download their operators TV Everywhere app to their device. Of those, under half use the app weekly, and just 10% (that’s 2% of all pay TV subscribers) use the app on a daily basis. Turner, A&E and NBC also have failed to engage their audience on connected devices with their TVE authenticated apps. According to Digitalsmiths, just 4.5% have downloaded the NBC app, 2.6% have any Turner channel app and 2.6% have downloaded A&E’s app.
Compare that to SVOD performance. In Q1 2015, 54.4% had at least one of the top SVOD apps on their connected device. 46% had Netflix, 19% had Amazon Prime Video and 11% had Hulu.
Once people download their pay TV provider’s app to their device, figuring out what they can and cannot watch is very hard indeed. For Comcast customers, the situation is particularly confusing. If they happen to be in their home and in a supported area for live TV they can watch all the live channels they have access to. However, they will need another app, Xfinity TV GO, to watch the 70 channels that are available outside the home. The same is true for on-demand content: full access inside the home with the Xfinity TV app, limited access outside the home with the Xfinity TV GO app. Confused? I know I am, and I bet a lot of Comcast’s customers are.
It has been 6 years since Comcast and Time Warner announced the very simple principle of TV Everywhere: all your subscribed content available everywhere. After 6 years, Comcast customers still aren’t anywhere near enjoying that promise.
While the ad campaign is sure to get more people to try TV Everywhere apps, it could also disappoint a lot of vacationers as they try to figure out what they can and can’t watch on the hotel WiFi. And if there’s one thing people love to do when they have spare time on their hands, its post about bad experiences to their 338 friends on Facebook.
Why it matters
Cable and partners plan a massive 2 week ad campaign to persuade subscribers to use TV Everywhere while on vacation.
There remains big differences between what can be accessed in home and out.
Gaping holes in out of home access to content is liable to confuse and frustrate customers, undoing the good work of the advertising campaign.