A+E Networks, the parent company of A&E, the History Channel, and Lifetime, is launching television anywhere Android apps for those three channels on Tuesday. The new apps, which build off A+E's previous iOS apps, give all users access to full episodes of shows including Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, and Army Wives. Cable or satellite subscribers with Xfinity TV accounts will also have access to the past season catalogs of popular shows.
In the face of competition from Hulu, Netflix, the BitTorrent protocol, and other service options, "TV Everywhere"—the viewing of streaming content on desktop and mobile that's tied to a user's cable or satellite account—has become an increasingly popular option from media giants with more to lose than to gain from embracing cord cutters.
According to an email sent by A+E, the network's iOS apps accounted for one-third of all video viewing in April 2013. A+E also added that the apps brought in three times more visits per unique visitor compared with A&E's, History's, and Lifetime's websites.
In a phone conversation, A+E executive vice president of Digital Media and Business Development Dan Suratt tells Fast Company that viewers also spent twice as much time watching programs in their apps as they did on standard websites for the three channels. The layout is also a bit different than the iPhone version; "Android screens tend to be bigger; we took advantage of that," Suratt said.
A+E's content model—all users get to see limited content while paying cable/satellite customers get the good stuff—fits in with the general business model behind TV Everywhere. At the Streaming Media East conference in New York in September 2012, A+E vice president of legal and business affairs Seth Metsch said that the challenge for his channels was how to sell ads on streaming television.
"Agencies buy commercials on television based on Nielsen ratings. Our networks are Nielsen rated, and that's what they look at. Nielsen doesn't capture it everywhere[...] I think everybody does something on the web that they don't necessarily want to have tied to them and announced for survey results."
The best known TV Everywhere product, HBO Go, recently hinted at being available without cable.
[Image: A+E Networks]