Premium content from HBO, Showtime and others used to be locked up in hefty subscription-based networks available for - well premium dollars. The problem is most target young viewers - a big target audience - don’t want to consume TV in a conventional cable/satellite model anymore. That limits exposure and ad revenue of this premium content to 20th century distribution models-and audiences.
Now, out of the box thinking (no pun intended) from content providers like HBO, and Cinemax (in development) are looking to change this with fresh new models that help preserve subscription revenue while granting access to these new mobile delivery devices. Even full Cable MSO, Time Warner Cable (TWC) is turning to mobile devices as the platform de jour to get their top-selling shows to a younger demographic who prefer anywhere/anytime content delivery for laptops, and now Android and iOS based mobile devices.
TWC seems to be leading this charge, as the company has come out in full support of the mobile device representing a simple extension of the living room TV (albeit in the palm of your hand)… a position quite unpopular with some contentment providers like Discovery, FOX and Viacom. Here’s how Franklin McMahon put it in a May Broadcastengineering.com blog, "TWC completely tore down the stand of these non-progressive networks stating that they were, in a sense, holding back the customers from the future of television." McMahon characterized the e-mail the company sent to subscribers as "refreshingly spirited and blunt."
The new mobile device app TWCableTV, offers up to 30 standard package channels to subscribers of both TWC Cable and their broadband service, allowing viewing on iPads in HD (720p widescreen.) TWC was careful to select programming that would be hot with cutting-edge mobile users including, CNN, E!, MSNBC, A&E, Bravo, Bio, Food Network, FX and more. But notice the catch - you need to subscribe to their cable and broadband service - this is not offered stand alone.
Premium content provider HBO is also getting into the act. They offer HBO Go, through Time Warner and are gaining traction with over 1M downloads for both Android and iOS devices. Driving this popularity is HBO’s deep content library, and the service so far, has opened up a whopping 1400 shows to mobile users through this set of mobile apps.
The HBO Go app, targeting mobile devices is taking a page out of the Netflix playbook, who targeted mobile devices in 2010, and went on record as morphing the company into an Internet streaming "network" (not just a consolidator of cable TV content) with 2M subscribers and plans for their own original programming in the works.
We think the premium content "cat" is finally out of the bag, in no small part due to the success and growing popularity of Netflix, a service McMahon has upgraded to a full network status, since the company announced it will produce original programming, to its nearly 2M subscriber base. Now the growing popularity of tablet and smartphone apps ensure the delivery of this premium content to a new generation of viewers (and a few of us 20th century old dogs) on the mobile devices that seem certain to carry forward television into this young, next century. And who would have seen this coming just one generation ago? - Steve Sechrist