TV Everywhere is a valuable tool for building engagement with viewers and growing your overall brand. When done right, TVE offerings drive viewership back to linear channels. Yet “TVE” should really stand for “Television Viewer Engagement,” because it’s not about simply offering content everywhere. It’s about creating a new, deeper relationship with your viewers. In the digital world we call that stickiness.
Here are six reasons why your TV Everywhere strategy isn’t working:
Reason 1: You believe that TV Everywhere is only about mobility outside the home. TV Everywhere is about making your content available wherever your viewers are searching for it. Increasingly viewers are migrating to the BAS – the Best Available Screen. In many cases the BAS is now the living room TV. A new study released by Leichtman Research Group found that 56% of US households have a TV connected to the Internet and nearly 30% of adults watch Internet-delivered video on those TVs regularly.
Mobile usage is still a very an important component to TVE, but unfortunately many cable networks stop there, seemingly content with just their existing mobile apps. However, if you want to own your viewer and engage in a meaningful way, your content needs to be available via TV-connected devices such as Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire HD, Xbox, etc., and on the connected TVs themselves. Your viewers are searching for your brand on those devices, and you need to be there to serve them. The savvy TV brands are already engaging viewers across all TV connected devices, as are the new digital-only networks. All of these programmers are out to steal your viewers, since your brand isn’t there yet.
Reason 2: Your tech team is leading your TV Everywhere deployment. TV Everywhere is about viewership and brand engagement, not clever app functionality or megabits-per-whatever. If your marketing team isn’t driving the strategy on TV Everywhere, it should be. TVE should drive viewership to the primary channel and grow brand loyalty. These are also the two key priorities for consumer marketing. Therefore, the budget and overall management of digital channels needs to be in the marketing and programming group, not the tech group, not the “advanced services” team and not the sales/distribution team. Ad sales also needs to have a say in TVE strategy, since higher overall viewership will impact ad sales on your primary channel and because advertisers want digital ad inventory inside these offerings.
Reason 3: You’ve put 100% of your content behind the authentication wall. Click, your viewer just went to some other channel app where they can engage with content immediately. The authentication wall can be high, so find lots of content that you can offer up front to pull viewers in and so they keep coming back. Even sports channels like MLB offer one live game a week free -- in front of the wall. Offer instant quality content and you'll get instant engagement.
Reason 4: You keep hoping that THIS will be the year cable VOD finally delivers. Yes, VOD offerings via MVPDs are getting better and easier to use, and networks still need to be in that space. But you also want your most passionate viewers engaged inside your own branded digital channel, as opposed to a massive VOD library with a million other titles, curated by the MVPD. Load up your digital channel with great content, promote the availability and you’ll keep your fans engaged and loyal. You’ll also attract new viewers.
Reason 5: You haven’t told your viewers where else to find you. You possess what all digital-only content publishers would kill for: a full time promotional platform to drive viewers to your digital offerings. Roku now boasts more than 2,000 digital channels, and you have a ridiculously huge advantage over nearly every other programmer on that platform. Use your promo time to remind viewers that for a deeper, richer experience with your brand, they should check out your digital offerings on TV-connected devices, mobile and via VOD from their MVPD. Don’t worry, once you hook your fans on your great content via digital platforms and VOD, you’ll deepen the relationship with those viewers, and they will come back to your linear channel on Thursday night to watch that big series premiere.
Reason 6: You haven’t explored creating sub-brands and alternate over-the-top offerings. HBO did it. Tennis Channel did it. CBS did it. The Blaze and Showtime are doing it. Your competitors are planning to do it. YOU need to do it. Launch a new sub-brand and add tons of original content (even it’s from the library). Think about creating new content -- repackaged from your library or “behind the scenes” or digital shorts. Using internal resources this can be done cost effectively. Get a sponsor to pay for it. This generally should not put you at odds with your distributors, since it is not offered on your linear network -- and you can even offer it on VOD to MVPDs. Today the barriers to entry (including technical costs) are extremely low, and you have the promotion tools to drive eyeballs and usage. The stores are all open, and they all want to put your amazing content on their shelves. Experiment!
For years, your distributors have controlled nearly all the marketing of your brand to subscribers, including the channel neighborhood you are in, the frequency of your cross-channel promos and promotion of your VOD/broadband offerings.
Now you have the opportunity to extend your content and brand directly to your viewers. They have arrived in the TV-connected device space and they are searching for your content. Don’t disappoint them.
Sean Riley is president and founder of Sean Riley Consulting, specializing in digital content distribution and sports television strategy. A 24-year veteran of the cable industry, Riley most recently spent 16 years at Fox as senior vice president of distribution and marketing. He also oversees business development at 1 Mainstream, an automated platform for distribution of linear and on-demand content to connected devices. In April 2015, Riley joined Layer3 TV as a member of the Content Advisory Board.