May 6, 2007
Keeping Transmedia Services Bound in the Gates of Exclusivity

Gated content is one thing. But I've been giving some extra thought to what amounts to gated services recently, based on my revisiting a deal struck in March 2006 in which TiVo would be partnering with Verizon so that TiVo subscribers would be able to schedule their programming through their cell phone with the service provider starting last summer.

David Zatz provides the press release on his site, which touts that TiVo Mobile will be "a new downloadable application that lets TiVo service subscribers schedule recordings on their TiVo device directly from their Get It Now equipped Verizon Wireless handset."

Zatz voiced many people's complaints when he said, "This probably isn't a service I'd utilize (especially since I'm with Sprint)." I see what Verizon got out of the deal, but it seems that exclusivity limits a significant number of people from being able to use this feature, and since mobile scheduling of content could be quite a benefit for some users, it may serve to anger viewers locked into a contract with another service provider who then can't take advantage of this service.

Or, with an increasing amount of content or services exclusive to one cell phone company or another, users are left having to choose which services they would like to have most, since most of us can't afford to have multiple cell phones in our pockets.

According to the TiVo Mobile page, I'm assuming that Verizon remains the only site through which you can program your TiVo from afar. I know there are plenty of times I left home, only to realize I had forgotten to set something to record that I had been meaning to, so I see the convenience, but it still remains a gated service that limits the ability of TiVo subscribers to take advantage.

Besides, I know I lived in an area before I moved here in which Cingular was the only major cell phone provider that worked on a consistent basis, so there remains some geographic areas that are cut off by the Verizon exclusivity.

See my previous piece on gated content in relation to Disney from last June, also dealing with Verizon, in this case its Internet service. At the time, I wrote:

I'm interested in seeing which of Disney's dual approaches seems to gain the most legs. The problem with the "gated" approach appears to be the company-specific restrictions that causes many problems of platform. If, as a fan of soap opera and pro wrestling and classic country music (using me as an example, you see), soap opera content is available to me exclusively on Verizon, wrestling exclusively on RCN, and country exclusively on BellSouth, then I'm going to be extremely upset as a fan that I'm blocked from being able to enjoy the content I want to see the most because it's locked up in such company-specific deals. Of course, these deals mentioned above are hypothetical, but--while staying in Kentucky--I can't see the SoapNetic content if I wanted to, since Verizon Internet service is not offered here.