Can "TV Everywhere" Become "Publishing Everywhere"? Jeff Bewkes Thinks So

Last Updated Nov 5, 2009 10:13 AM EST

Even though the "TV Everywhere" concept is still in its earliest stages, that hasn't stopped Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes from declaring that a similar concept might also be applied to the company's publishing properties -- which seems more than a bit premature. Here's what Bewkes told the troops, according to an internal memo published yesterday by Paid Content:
... we're advancing TV Everywhere even faster than I expected. As you know, TV Everywhere is an industry initiative to allow those who subscribe to TV in their homes to watch their favorite programs at no extra charge on a wide range of other devices ...

Looking ahead, we'd like to develop a similar model for the publishing industry. As e-readers and other mobile technologies become more sophisticated and popular, consumers will want magazine content available conveniently on a range of these devices. So it's an exciting opportunity for Time Inc. and the rest of the industry to give consumers the content they want, when and how they want it â€" while growing both circulation and advertising revenue.
Sounds, great, huh? Here's why it might not be. These ideas have everything to do with what Time Warner wants; whether these models are ones consumers will pay for is unproven. As I alluded to above, TV Everywhere itself is an untested concept, and the reason it's advancing so fast has to do with cable operators wanting to ensure they don't let the Internet business kill their model, not, yet, from consumers clamoring for the service as it's in a very low-key rollout.

Which is not to say "TV Everywhere" doesn't have a future. It might, because when people watch professional video content they generally want to watch what they want to watch and may pay to get it; there is no comparable content, for instance, for "The Daily Show."

But apply the same concept to magazine properties and it gets a bit dicier. If you want to read about the healthcare debate and an online magazine wants to charge you to do so, you're likely to go and find someone who will give you comparable content for free.

There is scant evidence so far that people are jumping at the chance to pay for magazine content on non-PC digital platforms. Though an app isn't the same as content, it's certainly curious that most publishing companies -- including Time Warner with its Time Inc. Mobile iPhone app -- aren't charging consumers for them. That in itself should indicate that the market for "Publishing Everywhere" is unclear. Just because content is put everywhere, doesn't mean people will pay for it.

Previous coverage of "TV Everywhere" at BNET Media:
  • Catharine Taylor

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