Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 9:55 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Remarkably, it's already been 4 years since the CEOs of Time Warner and Comcast unveiled the concept of TV Everywhere in a high-profile press event. Since then numerous successful services have launched (e.g. HBO GO, WatchESPN, etc.), yet the prevailing consensus - which I agree with - is that TV Everywhere hasn't yet been adopted at nearly the level anticipated.
I've written in the past about the 5 key things I believe are holding back TV Everywhere and 1 of them is "authentication" - the process of verifying a user and providing rights to watch programming covered by their subscription. Picayune as it might seem at first blush for pay-TV subscribers to remember and input their user name and password to be authenticated, it has turned out to be a genuine barrier to adoption.
That's why Comcast's announcement yesterday of "Home Pass" which auto-verifies and logs in dual Comcast video and broadband subscriber when accessing Xfinity TV (the company's branded TV Everywhere initiative) is significant. Rather than fumbling for their credentials, users can simply visit the Xfinity portal and begin watching nearly instantly.
Comcast and other operators trialed this last summer with the London Olympics using Adobe Pass and I wrote positively about my experience here. By looking up my IP address and confirming my status as a broadband subscriber, I was cleared for viewing within seconds, a much better experience than logging in manually. The limitation is that the user needs to be within the home. But given recent research that most "mobile" tablet and smartphone video consumption actually happens within the home, Home Pass will be beneficial for many subscribers.
Whether other pay-TV operators roll out similar auto-verification mechanisms remains to be seen. From my standpoint it's a no-brainer. Though TV Everywhere services have yet to be marketed aggressively, the ROI on eventual promotional spending would only improve to the extent that the path to actually watching content was smoothed with auto-verification. TV Everywhere still has a rocky road ahead of it, but auto-verification is one straightforward thing pay-TV operators can do now to improve adoption.