Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable expects to launch HBO's "TV Everywhere" online video services, "HBO Go" and "Max Go" early in 2012. As is the case with other similar efforts, HBO Go will be available on a "sell through" basis only. Subscribers will have to buy HBO or Cinemax as part of their fixed-line video service, in order to be able to use HBO Go or Max Go on iPads or PCs.
The difference, though, is that HBO Go and Max Go will be available outside the home, a limitation some might argue limits the usefulness of "TV Everywhere" services that allow use only within the subscriber's home.
Time Warner Cable customers who subscribe to HBO and/or Cinemax will have "no additional charge" access to the corresponding online services at any time, on any computer in the U.S. with a high-speed Internet connection as well as other devices, including the iPad.
The strategy behind HBO Go and other TV Everywhere services is to allow on-the-go access, in the case of HBO Go, or at least untethered access within the home, for buyers of the traditional services, essentially adding over the top access in a way that does not cannibalize the legacy services. Time HBO Go
Of course that strategy does not add revenues, either, but does add value and would tend to prevent churn. That defensive strategy reflects the market position held by video service providers, which stand to be disrupted by the likes of Netflix, Amazon and other pure-play services.
But it does not appear the current model is getting much consumer traction. It certainly is not for lack of availability. TV Everywhere is now available in over 70 U.S. million homes. Low demand for TV Everywhere?
"In terms of availability, it's been a tremendous success; in terms of adoption, it has not a success at this point," said Phil Kent, chairman and CEO, Turner Broadcasting (News - Alert) System. "It's been disappointing."
Some would argue that relatively limited content is one reason for the light adoption. Others might say marketing ineffectiveness is the reason for low uptake.
But some might argue that service offers too little value. The ability to watch subscription video on a tablet, inside one's home, might occasionally be useful. But it might not be "highly" useful.
Nor, from a distributor's point of view, or a content owner's point of view, is the business model so clear. That isn't the case for traditional "scheduled" viewing, in real time, or for viewing of physical media products.
But there is not a well-understood and proven revenue model for time-shifted video, Kent argues. Some might argue that the reason for that uncertainty is the modest amount of value, so long as content menus remain limited and people can watch only within their homes.
Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves