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SXSW: Lauren Zalaznick on the Future of 'TV Everywhere'

Lauren Zalaznick
Gary Gerschoff/Getty Images

The NBCUniversal exec's new position shifts her focus squarely to the cross-platform programming trend.

AUSTIN -- Lauren Zalaznick is only three weeks into her new role at NBCUniversal, which saw her transition from overseeing cable nets including Bravo, Oxygen and Telemundo to tackling strategic digital goals for the company in the areas of innovation, monetization and emerging technologies. But it's clear Zalaznick, whose title is now executive vp, already has spent a great deal of time thinking about TV Everywhere.

The premise of TV Everywhere -- that authenticated cable and satellite subscribers should have cross-platform, anytime access to that content -- is a fairly straightforward one. But in a chat with former CBS Interactive head Quincy Smith at South by Southwest Interactive on Tuesday, Zalaznick said that TV Everywhere's biggest problem is that no one can agree on what TV Everywhere really means.

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"Most people talk about TV Everywhere as if it's one thing," Zalaznick said. "I think it's three things, which is already confusing. One name should mean one thing, not three things."

The first, she said, is what she calls a "superb on-demand platform," the best example of which is HBO Go. But it isn't without its limitations.

"People hold up the HBO Go platform as a superb TV Everywhere experience," she explained. "It is, but it's canned product. It's full episodes of seasons present and past, in order, in a beautiful interface -- it feels like Apple. It delivers the episodes and once in a while delivers a little something extra."

The concept of an enhanced viewer experience, Zalaznick says, is a key aspect of TV Everywhere -- and one she feels achieved its full potential with NBCUniversal's digital Olympics offerings.

"It delivered a huge incentive to people to actually log on to the Olympics TV Everywhere app," she said. "You could experience not only the live streaming of the Olympics but also the 1,400 hours that were not on one of the linear television channels. If you wanted to go deep on a certain sport, you knew where to find it."

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Finally, there's the concept of "best screen available," a phrase frequently used in ESPN's TV Everywhere efforts, which Zalaznick characterizes as a more "discrete product."

"So if you had your druthers, you're going to watch the Super Bowl on the biggest screen in the house," the exec said. "But if you have to be away, if you're doing something else -- say you're a toll-taker with an iPad -- maybe you're watching on a smaller screen."

She admits a multifaceted answer to her own definition of TV Everywhere could result in difficulties and confusion in attempting to roll the service out to consumers, but she remains undaunted.

"My company's primary concern is delivering on the promise of TV Everywhere and marrying advertising to it in appropriate and commensurate ways," Zalaznick said. "That will be the next evolution of the thing we call television."

Email: seth.abramovitch@thr.com

Twitter: @SethAbramovitch