I’m not a cord cutter. In fact, I’m a TV providers best customer. Forget Extreme packages, give me the Ultimate because I really need Starz to watch Magic City. In addition to paying for programming, I also pay TiVo a monthly bounty for their guide and for cable cards. One drawback of being a TiVo customer is the lack of on-demand. Thankfully, content providers are releasing apps to help showcase their content. HBO GO is shining example of how content providers can expand their individual relationship with their customers. It removes the barrier, in my case Verizon FIOS, between customer and content. So why are companies like Showtime continue to hold content hostage?
The idea that content could be made available on devices other than through a cable box certainly has hurdles. If the correct security protocols aren’t followed, you could have folks gaining unauthorized access. That hurdle was jumped by HBO and others by requiring customers login to their provider, while in the app. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works. For the first time in recent memory, I actually know my FIOS login. Showtime Anytime requires a similar login process. Again, no complaints here. This is a one time process and I’d really like to watch season 2 of Homeland, which for some bizarre reason is not available on DVD.
Showtime Anytime appeared in the App Store in June, albeit long overdue. The older Showtime app didn’t offer access to programming. Hokey follow social networks while watching live was available, but no content. That was rectified with the release of Anytime or was it.
In its infancy, HBO GO lacked support for AirPlay. It was a tease of sorts. Here’s a taste of our content, but don’t think twice about watching this on a TV. You want to watch The Sopranos, do so on your iPhone or iPad. TV is a communal thing. Can you imagine a few adults hovering around an iPad? At the same time, HBO GO was available on the ROKU streaming player. That’s connected to a TV, so why the lack of AirPlay support? HBO has since added AirPlay, thus removing the silly restrictions that had been in place. Additionally, there is an HBO GO app on the Apple TV, so you have more than one way to watch HBO GO.
If you are executives at the second tier of premier programming, one would think you’d learn from the mistakes of HBO. When it launched last month, Showtime Anytime shipped without support for AirPlay. It’s not as if this is new technology. Engineers could most certainly look at how HBO executed their app development. That is, unless you are in the business of holding your content hostage?
Apps allow content providers have a unique opportunity to interact directly with their customers. They can handle how programs are distributed and also make a unique value proposition about the quality of their offerings. In my house, we’ve watched a number of HBO shows that are not currently being shown on FIOS. Before GO, it’s not as if we’d ever do something crazy like cancel the channel, but it has certainly increased our enjoyment of HBO’s programming. For the consumer who is trying HBO for the first time, offering unbridled access to all of their content, allows them to see the value in their programming by seeing the big picture. It’s that big picture that Showtime is missing.