NBCUniversal is using the largest annual live sports viewing stage – the Super Bowl – to pitch consumers the benefit of a cable TV subscription – by offering a free, no-strings attached live stream of the game, pre-game, post-game and half-time programming, along with an episode of The BlackList.
The benefit is called TV Everywhere (TVE), which enables those with a cable TV subscription to watch the channels they pay for on Web connected and wireless devices free. It’s an extra value and flexibility perk designed years ago.
Still, TVE is arguably not well enough understood by the average consumer. It’s a customer retention strategy that strives to thwart cord-cutting, which continues to hurt cable TV providers. Cable operators (such as NBC-parent Comcast (News - Alert)) and the top channels they carry generally team in this effort.
“‘Super Stream Sunday’ builds off of NBCUniversal’s commitment to create broader TV Everywhere opportunities for our consumers,” said Alison Moore, GM and EVP of TV Everywhere for NBCUniversal, in prepared comments. “We are leveraging the massive digital reach of the Super Bowl to help raise overall awareness of TV Everywhere by allowing consumers to explore our vast TVE offering with this special one-day-only access.”
With Comcast hoping for approval of its $45 billion merger with closest cable competitor Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable, promoting and educating consumers on TVE becomes an even greater priority.
How TVE Works
With TVE, you have to log in and have your pay-TV channel credential authenticated to view your TV set programming on other devices whether they are laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. On Super Bowl Sunday, these steps are not required and fans can watch NBC’s 11-hour long live stream for free.
NBC says NBC Sports Live Extra is available for desktops at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available at the App Store for iPad and iPod touch, on select devices within Google (News - Alert) Play, and on Windows tablets.
Sites such as NFL.com and SuperBowl.com will also point to the live stream, which will include an episode of NBC’s popular series The BlackList.
During the stream, the NBC TVE app will be promoted heavily in hopes of addressing the Achilles’ heel of the TVE strategy, lack of understanding (education) about the perk that many pay-TV subscribers, especially live sports fans, are paying for but not using as a result.
As they are arguably the most coveted live content, sports have driven TVE farthest forward with millions of fans using the perk to access live streams of past Olympics (dating back to the 2012 Summer Olympics London), March Madness (the three-week college basketball tournament and championship game) and World Cup soccer events.
Unlike TV shows, specials and movies, live sports are far, far less likely to be viewed later using DVRs or video-on-demand.
Super Stream Challenges
But although the NBC live stream is free, you need to do more than simply visit the NBC website. Viewers will need to download NBC’s TVE application to their laptops and tablets. Since Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) is the official provider of wireless for the NFL, you’ll need to the NFL Mobile app ($5 a month) of the carrier’s More Everything Plan to get the NBC stream to wireless devices such as smartphones.
Not having the wireless component under one multi-platform streaming effort substantially limits the NBC effort to educate (the live sports fan masses on TVE). Those also looking for device and location flexibility for their content viewing for other content could still provide a big boost, especially if it’s made clear to Super Bowl stream viewers that TVE usually includes wireless.
Just like the Super Bowl, TVE is high stakes, whether it’s the game, the multimillion dollar advertisements or sponsor brand-building opportunities that extend beyond TV to social media. With cable operators still losing subscribers on a quarterly basis promoting TVE optimally and across all platforms is paramount to companies like Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal).
Cover the Waterfront
Fans need to get the message loud and clear, and in verbiage that resonates across all age demographics, not just the usual 18-49, as the future of cable TV rest largely with youth who typically have their parents pay for any TV service, traditional or broadband-enabled in the household.
Reducing cord-cutting is a years-old customer retention strategy designed to work, despite alternatives and breakaway online services such as HBO’s planned venture. TVE needs to reach down to those not paying for, but watching cable TV. Some call them “cord-nevers” believing this tech-savvy broadband fueled demographic will never pay for the cable TV their parents were raised on once that time comes.
In it to Win it?
Given that this is live-streamed sports at its highest level and allure, NBC (and Comcast) need to craft a broad-reaching, magnetic and captivating message that’s simple, direct and most of all, educational.
NBC explained that as part of this special access to the Super Bowl streaming event, they will receive “consistent messaging in and around the experience about the ease in authenticating after the end of The Blacklist.”
The company has 11 hours of Super Bowl streaming a week from Sunday during which to court current and prospective cable TV subscribers using TVE. The timing is right for educating sports fans on TVE.
Game on. Almost.