What Will Be In the 'Authentication' Basket?

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So all the major pay-TV providers — cable, satellite and telcos — are in talks at various stages with programmers to map out how to deliver a bonus pack of content on the Web. (See Satellite, Telcos In ‘TV Everywhere’ Camp.)

But what, exactly, will that bundle of “extra” content be?

Would it be, say, the entire previous season of Weeds for Showtime subscribers? Or maybe seasons 2 and 3 of Sci Fi’s Battlestar Galactica? (Sorry, I mean Syfy.)

In Time Warner Cable’s trial with HBO On Broadband in Wisconsin, subscribers to the premium channel have had access to some 400 hours of movies and original series.

At a minimum — the online services must have parity with traditional VOD, according to one senior exec at a major cable TV programmer.

“The basic premise here that everyone will need to follow — or this is going to fail — is that it needs to be a very robust experience behind the wall,” the executive said. In return for verifying that you’re a paying video subscriber, “there has to be a reward.”

In this executive’s analysis, there are four levers to pull:

* Volume: making dozens of episodes available, as opposed to a selection of 4 to 5 free on Hulu.com

* Windows: making shows available next-day after air or perhaps even sooner

* Quality of experience: delivering video at higher bit rates than what is available on Hulu or other sites

* Exclusive content: extras, deleted scenes, interviews, etc., that “live only behind the wall”

At the end of the day, the programmer noted, “this isn’t about making the Internet experience better than the TV experience. This is about supplementing the TV. The TV needs to be the primary place to go but we also understand people can’t always access their TVs.”