Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Triple-Play Promise that Never Delivered

Recent spikes in online video consumption have created an opportunity for service providers to offer an integrated three-screen video service, according to the latest assessment by TDG.

Most U.S. broadband service providers are no doubt viewing this opportunity -- especially those with expansive infrastructure investments that need to be rationalized.

"This is the trifecta of video services," notes Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst at TDG.

"Though very few have the assets and acumen to pull it off, rest assured every major cable, satellite, and mobile operator is actively pursuing a three-screen strategy. As our new research suggests, they'd be crazy not to."

As it stands today, people who want to watch TV programming and other video on their TVs, PCs, and mobile devices end up signing contracts with three different providers, receiving three different packages of content, and paying three different fees.

At some point, notes Greeson, services provider might integrate or bundle these disparate services into a single offering with one price, one point of customer contact, and one integrated electronic program guide.

However, in my opinion, the opportunity for a triple-play bonanza has come and gone from the expectations of service providers. In reality, most customers who bought the bundle "promise" typically received little more than a consolidated monthly bill.

TDG's recent study concludes:

- Approximately one-fourth of adult broadband users in the U.S. -- approximately 35 million -- are somewhat likely to sign up for a three-screen video service at a price between $65 and $105 per month.

- More than half of Three-Screen Intenders are between the ages of 25 and 44, though Intenders between the ages of 18 and 24 are significantly more enthusiastic.

- A sizable (undefined) portion of Early Mainstream consumers are poised to embrace a three-screen video offering, not just Early Adopters.

- Three-Screen Intenders are 21 percent more likely than Non-Intenders to use a game console, twice as likely to use an iPhone, and twice as likely to have a TV connected to their home network.

- 92 percent of Intenders view online video on a weekly basis, compared with 78 percent of Non-Intenders.

- Cable operators are preferred as a three-screen provider almost two-to-one over satellite TV providers.

- Real-time weather, news, and sports programming (both local and national) are among the content types most favored for a three-screen video service.