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CNN News Fans Run Into Brick Pay Wall on the Web

By Erika Morphy
Jul 18, 2011 3:18 PM PT

Live streaming of CNN's and HLN's 24-hour television networks became available on CNN.com, the CNN App for iPad, and the CNN App for iPhone and iPod touch on Monday -- but only to a limited audience.

CNN News Fans Run Into Brick Pay Wall on the Web

CNN's rollout of its version of TV Everywhere for consumers reaches AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DISH Network, Suddenlink and Verizon subscribers. Those who are customers of other cable or satellite companies are out of luck. The service has met with some complaints about the inconvenience to consumers, including the requirement to punch in their customer numbers to access the streaming news.

The grumbling is taking the focus off the offering itself, which includes what CNN calls a "new video experience" that integrates live network TV into a video player capable of delivering HD quality.

Users can access CNN and HLN live online streaming by visiting the website, clicking on the "Live" tab, and log-in through their cable, satellite or telco provider with a username and password.

CNN spokesperson Erica Puntel declined to comment for this story, pointing the E-Commerce Times to CNN's official statement.

Pay Walls, Pay Subscribers

CNN is taking a passive-aggressive approach to the concept of TV Everywhere, said Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM PR.

"To get to the service, you really have to jump through hoops," he told the E-Commerce Times. "It is obvious when you compare how easy it is to access video on other sites like MSNBC or YouTube."

One reason for that, in Laermer's view, is that CNN's management is bogged down in bureaucracy.

Another reason could be that CNN has only reluctantly embraced the concept of TV Everywhere, suggested Paul Levinson, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University.

"The people still calling the shots in cable come from an older generation that doesn't get Facebook or Twitter," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Demanding Process

However, there are difficulties to surmount in setting up such a service, pointed out Mike Manzo, chief strategy officer at Openet.

"Providing a reliable content stream accessible via mobile applications or online 24 hours a day is quite a demanding process," he told the E-Commerce Times.

The biggest challenge is going to be coming up with an acceptable method for validating subscriber accounts in order to enable user access, he said.

"Subscribers are always looking for ease of use, but carriers are constantly struggling with access points that meet both subscriber expectations for ease of use and proper validation to avoid overbilling," he said.

The New York Times' Pay Wall

This debate is hardly limited to the news broadcast space. Some newspapers, most notably The New York Times, have been grappling with the issue of how to monetize online content -- content that many consumers have come to expect for free.

The Times decided after much soul-searching to keep its best content behind a pay wall for frequent readers.

It is still unclear whether this strategy is working out on a long-term basis, but its regular readers have so far not complained about access -- one of the early sticking points, Laermer said.

Unlike CNN's offering, The New York Times' content is easy to access once you've subscribed, he said. "Furthermore they have made it fun and even more useful. People can share content -- can access it from their mobile devices."


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Is fake news a major problem?
Yes -- people don't know which news to trust.
No -- it's very easy to spot.
Yes -- it's propaganda warfare, and the U.S. is losing.
No -- people have always believed what suited them.
Yes -- but only temporarily, as people are catching on.
No -- much of it actually isn't fake.