Episodes of A&E’s “Storage Wars” and “Bates Motel” and History’s “Vikings” (pictured, above) and “Swamp People” are now available to watch live online and mobile devices — for most pay TV subscribers, anyway.
“This is just another stage in our evolution of TV Everywhere,” A+E Networks senior VP of digital media Evan Silverman said. “One of our strategies has been to offer robust content, both in front of the wall (free to all users) and behind (to customers of participating pay TV partners).”
The livestreams of A&E and History are available to video customers of Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems and Shaw Communications. Dish Network and AT&T U-verse are the biggest providers that don’t have TV Everywhere deals with A+E.
A+E will deliver East Coast feeds for the networks, carrying the same national ad load as on TV. But it won’t be able to roll that viewing into its Nielsen TV ratings; Nielsen is working to combine TV and online viewing into a single metric, which it expects to launch for the 2014-15 season. “Right now, it’s a nice bonus for our ad partners,” Silverman said. “We’ll figure out measurement or dynamic ad insertion soon.”
Other cablers that offer live feeds in their TV Everywhere apps include ESPN, Turner’s TBS, TNT and CNN, and Showtime Networks.
The media company decided to launch the livestreaming of the TV networks — before the advertising questions were sorted out — to start analyzing viewer behaviors. “It’s a little bit of a test period to gather learnings,” Silverman said.
A+E has found that for its mobile apps, most of the viewing is in the home over Wi-Fi, with viewing peaking at 10-11 p.m., suggesting pent-up demand for linear channels on mobile devices, according to Silverman. Later this year, the livestreaming support will be coming to the A&E and History apps for Android as well.
The company’s apps, which provide full-length on-demand episodes, have been downloaded more than 14 million times. The VOD content is available through apps for Roku and Microsoft Xbox 360, but A+E does not have plans to provide the live TV streams to those devices.
A+E’s broadcast operations facility in Stamford, Conn., take the linear feeds of both nets and transcodes them using Elemental Technologies’ encoding systems. The livestream is delivered via Akamai Technologies’ content-delivery network to consumers.