TV Everywhere: Big Video for Small Ops

July 31, 2013
While TV Everywhere could seem a daunting prospect for small to mid-sized operators, a partnership between the NCTC and Ohio-based MCTV is making it less so. Since its introduction last year, Watch TV Everywhere (WTVE) already has signed on 100 members in a fede...
While TV Everywhere could seem a daunting prospect for small to mid-sized operators, a partnership between the NCTC and Ohio-based MCTV is making it less so. Since its introduction last year, Watch TV Everywhere (WTVE) already has signed on 100 members in a federation of companies.The NCTC works on acquiring programming rights to bring additional networks into the fold (the number currently is 50), and MCTV handles the technical and physical side of things.The story began in 2010, when MCTV wanted to be a part of HBO GO, and the network agreed to develop an interface that would allow the company to keep up with its competition, said Bob Gessner, MCTV president.But what about the numerous operators who would come asking later? Would the networks want to develop interfaces with all of them? And, in the reverse, would the smaller and medium-sized ops have the resources to do so?Gessner said: "Not long after HBO, we went to the co-op (NCTC) and said, 'Look, (we) want to give this (platform) to you. We don't want to make any money. You don't want to make any money. We want to make sure members have the opportunity to participate (in TV Everywhere).'"The platform was tested shortly thereafter, with the 2012 Olympics. MCTV worked with NBC to onboard 80 or 90 members in a matter of months. "The other platforms (took) months to do one (company). We were doing it by the dozens," Gessner said. "It proved to us we could do it and opened the door to a lot of other networks."The concept is a simple TV Everywhere authentication platform, with the goal of keeping costs low and the middleman out, Gessner said of developing the platform. "It was about how small a cost center we could make it. Our motivation was not to have an outside third party that will run up development cost and charge a significant amount for (TV Everywhere, which operators) give away for free."For the service, members do pay a small fee to NCTC, which splits it with MCTV, but Gessner says the revenue is minimal. "The money we receive doesn't cover the time and effort we put into it, but we consider it a worthy cause."So what does MCTV get from the deal? An aggregation of companies is able to negotiate better programming deals, and the NCTC has more expertise in doing so."We know what we do well at MCTV," Gessner said. "We have great network engineering people. We can do integrations quickly and simply for everyone. Our forte is not programming rights ... the co-op provides what it does very well, and that is act as a facilitator between the content providers and (operators) on the other side."While larger operators are pushing toward integrated platforms and user interfaces, that is not what MCTV and NCTC are about at the moment. "(With ours,) if you want to watch TV online, you go to a site, log on, and watch TV online," Gessner said."This is not to say we might not do the one portal thing one day, but then it gets expensive," Gessner added. "Do the smaller and mid-sized operators in the co-op want that? If they do, there already are people who have developed those platforms, like Synacor (NASDAQ:SYNC). If they want larger and more complex, that is already available."Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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