How long must consumers endure authenticated video?

by Julia Homier | Dec. 10, 2013

A new survey found one-quarter of pay-TV subscribers have tried to watch online video that requires them to "authenticate" their status as a pay-TV subscriber. Authenticated video is one way of providing subscribers access to content via computers, tablets, and smartphones.

The upside (from the pay-TV provider's point of view) is that the technological burden of delivering access is shifted onto content provider. The downside is that it makes for a pretty lousy user experience. Most consumers who try to watch authenticated report that they are (at least some of the time) unable to actually watch video. Those trying to watch video more frequently are, surprise, surprise, more frequently denied access.

With most new services, there is a natural learning curve. Users might have trouble at first, but soon they get the hang of it. Authenticated video is different because those using it the most are the most frustrated. The poor user experience is also impacting perceptions of pay-TV providers. When asked why they were unable to access the video, 41% said it was because their service package didn't include access to the content. This may be the case some of the time, but clearly, there are many instances when consumers are mistaking a technical problem as a lack of access.

Given the poor user experience and potential brand-damage to service providers, a question naturally arises: How long must consumers endure authenticated video? The problem is not "authentication" per se but rather its implementation. If the subscriber must frequently authenticate or provide unfamiliar account data to authenticate, the user experience is going to remain lousy. There's clearly need for improvement on this front. Those getting it right first will enjoy some differentiation in the market-at least until the (hoped for) day when TV Everywhere works smoothly for all subscribers.

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