Cable Operators

ESPN’s Skipper: Make ‘TV Everywhere’ Easier

6/11/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

New York — In order to speed up the “TV Everywhere”
movement, the industry must find ways to simplify the authentication
process.

Finding ways to make authenticating WatchESPN as
easy as possible is what’s keeping ESPN president and
Disney Media Networks co-chairman John Skipper up at
night, he told an audience at the B&C Hall of Fame/Paley
Center for Media “TV 3.0” event here.

Alluding to what Discovery Communications president
and CEO David Zaslav said earlier about TV Everywhere’s
sluggish rollout, Skipper noted that different distributors
currently have different ways to authenticate subscribers.
“Right now it’s not as easy as we wish it was to authenticate,”
he said. “We need some uniform way. … We can’t ask people
to take out the cable bill and figure out your number. The
WatchESPN experience itself is very easy. We have to get past
the difficulty of authenticating your cable subscription.”

Skipper, who was interviewed by B&C editor in chief Ben
Grossman, called authentication the “lead priority” at ESPN/
Disney.

“David [Zaslav] was bemoaning, appropriately, that it’s taking
a long time. We’re among the first movers. HBO is among
the first movers. We have to provide [subscribers] with tools to
watch what they want, wherever and whenever they want to.”

He said cable operators are also interested in accelerating
the process because it “adds value” to their offerings and
helps “prevent cord-cutting.”

Given the “perishable” nature of sports, where currency
lasts only as long as the most recent games and commentary,
WatchESPN is critical to the worldwide leader’s success. Skipper
noted that “99.4%” of ESPN viewing, whether game action,
SportsCenter or its studio shows, occurs live.

ESPN, through deals with Time Warner Cable, Bright
House Networks, Verizon FiOS and Comcast, currently allows
authenticated subscribers to watch simulcasts of ESPN,
ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Deportes via the WatchESPN
app on their computers, tablets and mobile devices.

September