TVE vs. apps panel says search, discovery need to be fixed next

From left to right: Virginia Juliano, Cobblecord; Chris Faulkner, NBC; Ashley Swartz, Furious; Alan Wolk, MediaLink; Terri Stevens, MobiTV; and Perry Weinstein, Accedo.

NEW YORK—A debate-style panel featuring executives from NBC, MobiTV and other companies argued the merits of TV Everywhere vs. standalone apps, but agreed that search and discovery is in immediate need of fixing.

At the TV of Tomorrow conference, Chris Falkner, senior vice president of Advanced TV at NBC Broadcasting; Virginia Juliano, CEO of Cobblecord; Terri Stevens, CFO at MobiTV; Ashley Swartz, CEO of Furious Corp.; Perry Weinstein, North America general manager at Accedo; and Alan Wolk, senior advisor at MediaLink all seemed to recognize that integrated, cross-platform and cross-service discovery for various video services needs to happen.

Faulkner called discovery the “next thing everyone needs to solve” and pointed toward the efforts of companies including Apple and Amazon to unify search and discovery within a third-party app.

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Swartz was less judicious in her appraisal of the state of search and discovery across TVE and video apps, saying that it “equally sucks” within both experiences. However, she said that VOD apps, as opposed to TVE, have the most room to improve the experience because they are not tied into the linear TV construct.

Weinstein argued though that TVE is no longer a “stopgap” for providers and that, as awareness of those products expanded, providers are addressing issues like search and authentication.

Aside from user experience and functionality, Swartz said advertising, since pay-TV carriage and subscriptions are on the decline, is going to be central to both apps and authenticated experiences. She argued that apps are the more sustainable ad revenue model for content companies because ads are easier on an owned and operated platform, whereas TVE is more difficult because live dynamic ad insertion isn’t quite at the point where it can be used without disrupting performance.

Of course, monetization through advertising hinges on a platform’s ability to draw viewers. Faulkner argued that the depth of content is greater within an official network app like NBC’s versus a TVE aggregated app from a provider, which he said will usually only have last week’s episode. He likened the experience to seeking out a quality cut of meat from a local butcher rather than taking whatever meat is available at grocery store.

And if consumers appreciate the richer experience of an app over the more encompassing experience within a TVE authenticated product, Faulkner argued that consumers would be willing to shop around for additional, similarly focused components that would complement that viewing experience.

To that, though, Weinstein argued that many people are lazy and want everything in one place, making pay-TV the ideal option.