News Corp. prexy sez authentication needs to be user-friendly

News Corp. prexy and chief operating officer Chase Carey vented frustrations with the industry’s TV Everywhere efforts at the D:Dive Into Media conference Tuesday.

Carey didn’t mince words on how badly he believes cable, satellite and telcos have botched extending program viewing to digital platforms at no extra charge to subscribers who access content via authentication.

“I’d say authentication is a pretty poor execution to date,” said Carey at the confab in Laguna Niguel, Calif. hosted by Dow Jones’ AllThingsD website. “The process is way too difficult, way too unfriendly.”

Carey’s harsh assessment — he later referred to the TV Everywhere user experience as a “pain in the neck” — represented a notable dissent from industrywide support for authentication, which is seen as a defensive maneuver to help cablers and satcasters compete against digital upstarts like Netflix.

But TV Everywhere has been criticized in recent years despite repeated support from high-profile advocates like Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes for its slow rollout and chilly consumer reception.

Said Carey, “I’m frustrated by the progress to date or lack thereof in terms of making authentication something of a friendly user experience.”

Fox has been a pioneer in authenticated experiences with Hulu, which the conglom has a stake in as well, via an eight-day delay imposed on the availability of programming unless user subscribe to participating multichannel services like Dish Network.

Carey defended the company’s decision to take Hulu off the auction block because of its future strategic value.

“It’s something a lot of people would cut off their arms to have that leadership space in the digital arena,” he said.

Carey touched on the struggle between maintaining the bundle of TV channels responsible for delivering half of the profits News Corp. hauls in with the technology that will inevitably make video a more a la carte content experience. The answer, he suggested, is a middle ground between the two that can only be arrived at through cautious experimentation.

Carey spoke candidly of the need to experiment on digital platforms even if it isn’t immediately clear what the payoff is. Regarding News Corp.’s launch of brands like IGN and the Wall Street Journal as part of the new YouTube channels strategy, he expressed his doubts regarding the financial model.

“I struggled when I first looked at it,” Carey admitted. “Written on a piece of paper, (I thought) this will never make a dime. One hundred channels fragmented, spread across the world — it’s not going to add up. But I don’t think we can get hung up on forcing ourselves to have business plans for things that are unknown.”

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