TV Everywhere, Monetization Somewhere

So much content, so many screens, so little time.  That’s how my world feels anymore, and I imagine many of you can relate.  This new world we are in is a decade old at best, with TV Everywhere just hitting its stride. As consumers, many of us still haven’t figured out how to adjust to it — nor have historical advertising and monetization models.

I will use the somewhat overused example of teenagers as harbingers of things to come.  My high-schooler navigates the stairs with ease, texting rapidly with his smartphone glued to his hands.  He crashes on the couch to half-watch a TV program, sets his smartphone down, and picks up the nearby tablet to start gaming.  Bored with that, he actually watches the TV program for 20 minutes and then impatiently bolts up the stairs to resume a mix of homework, texting, gaming and social networking on his laptop and smartphone.

As long as the grades are there, I don’t complain.  Besides, he sees that I do the same.  This multiscreen behavior that many of us engage in daily is fluid, instinctive and in-the-moment.  Eyeballs and attention move seamlessly from device to device, from task to task, from consumption to creation to interaction.  We do this frenetically, shifting from one to another, with modest-at-best loyalty to device, brand, network or show.

But let’s get back to that 20 minutes of TV program I mentioned.  Did you assume that it was linear?  Well, as early adopters of online video, maybe 40 percent of my family’s TV viewing is linear, straight from the affiliate or broadcaster.  The remaining 60 percent is a diverse mix of online sources — including Netflix, YouTube, and the myriad sources available via Roku, the DVR, and other devices.

Even during that linear 40 percent, our attention is divided — checking the tablet for a sports statistic associated with the game on TV, or grabbing a smartphone to text about how much snow is on the playing field.  This sounds like “TV Everywhere,” but it is really something much more complex and rich that is better described as “Multiple Screens, Social Interactive Networking, Gaming, Work Activities, Search And Investigation Video Everywhere” (an anagram of the acronym is appropriately “A MASSIVE SWING”).  Limited time is spent engaged in traditional, lean-back linear broadcast TV.

To some degree, you might also refer to what we are all beginning to do as “transmedia” of sorts.  As an evolving term, transmedia has many interpretations, but generally refers to consumers of content also actively participating or “leaning-forward” in a story across various media types, locations, devices and networks.  In a small way, even sending a tweet about your favorite dance show is transmedia.  Although much more than this — and a subject for a future blog — transmedia is a new and exciting indicator of a massive swing or paradigm shift that is affecting many of us, enabled substantially by the Internet and proliferation of screens.

This massive swing has multiple implications.  For broadcasters and affiliates, it means that the moments of attention you receive over linear TV are fleeting.  It means that you must maximize the value of those moments, requiring that your traffic and scheduling processes are top-notch, that you are delivering the right ads to the right audiences at the right time, and that you have all of the tools at your disposal to optimize your airtime and make the most efficient use of your ad inventory.  It means that next-generation analytics, data visualization and predictive tools are now indispensible in the effort to zero in on business trends and revenue opportunities.

While the bulk of your revenue continues to come from your legacy linear business, the challenge will be to identify low-risk paths for pursuing the ever-expanding TV Everywhere opportunities. Deploying parallel processes, equipment and staff to deliver nonlinear services on top of linear services is neither efficient, nor economical; this means that tight integration — from back-office to on-air operations — will take on an all-new level of importance.  State-of-the-art rights and scheduling tools capable of managing both linear playlists and nonlinear services will make it easier to experiment with emerging business models.  Incorporating Adaptive Bit Rate  capabilities into your network will provide the bandwidth needed to efficiently monetize the multiscreen environment.

Quite often with new trends and technologies, consumer behavior far precedes an industry’s ability to adapt.  This is indeed the case with TV Everywhere, and we hope that you will allow us to help you get there — making new multiscreen models a stable, efficient and profitable part of your business.