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Time Warner Cable's TV Everywhere and the Push to Protect Revenue

In an innovative push to protect cable subscription revenue Time Warner Cable has rallied content providers to launch a password-protected online access system for subscribers. The goal of the system which it'll start testing in the next few months, is to give consumers cable content online, in an accessible enough format that they'll want to continue to pay their cable bill, even if their preferred medium is the web.

Time Warner Cable has an impressive roster of content partners on board: Time Warner's TNT, TBS, and HBO, Discovery Communications, CBS, NBC Universal's SyFy, AMC, WEtv, Sundance Channel and the Smithsonian Channel. Time Warner Cable points out that TV Everywhere will offer many shows that aren't offered online at all, and ones that are currently online, it'll get episodes up faster than they're now made available.

One key point that's particularly important to the content partners: TV Everywhere will distribute not only through Time Warner Cable's websites, but also through programmer-owned websites. That includes websites like CBS' TV.com and each of the company's own websites. Most crucially though it also, Hulu.com, of which NBC Universal is a co-owner and now dominates the distribution of broadcast TV content. If Hulu.com could aggregate not only broadcast TV content as it does now, but also a significant amount of cable content, it could really become the go-to destination for TV online. If you have a cable subscription you log in and get full access. If you don't have cable, you get access to older content and the very same shows that are just ad-supported on TV.

NBC Universal explained why it makes sense for its SyFy network to participate in this test, saying that SyFy's "tech-forward" demographic is particularly willing to try new things. Since NBC Universal has rebranded SciFi as "SyFy" this also is probably a good opportunity to re-introduce the channel to the 5,000 cable subscribers who will initially get to test the product.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes issued a statement that reminded that TV Everywhere started back in January 2008 with a trial with HBO content in Milwaukee: "The trial proved TV Everywhere is more than just a concept and that consumers gravitate to popular shows on-demand regardless of the platform. With today's announcement we will expand the trial to offer more Time Warner shows, initially from TBS and TNT, to more Time Warner Cable customers nationally."

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.