CNN Joins TV Everywhere, Puts Live News Behind The Log-In Wall

CNN is now broadcasting live 24 hours a day online and on mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The live streams are available for both CNN proper and Headline News, but good luck finding them. They are definitely not front and center.

If you go to CNN’s main video page, instead of being presented with a live video stream of breaking news, it shows you canned videos from its “Collections.” These seem to be mostly human interest clips like Anderson Cooper answering viewer questions while thoughtfully looking at his iPad or a segment on the best BBQ in Texas.

To watch live video, you can click on the “Live” tab. And this does take you to some live options, including live feeds which CNN has been offering for a while. But to get the new, fully-produced, 24-hour live stream, you have to “unlock to watch.” Click on that and then it asks for your cable company user ID from Verizon, Cox, Comcast, and the like. If you are like me, you will probably have to dig that out. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

You see, CNN’s 24-hour online video is part of TV Everywhere, the cable industry’s answer to Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and the threat of online video in general. The concept is simple. If you are already paying for a channel on your TV, you should get it online for free. Gradually, more and more TV networks are signing onto TV Everywhere and it will become more compelling over time.

My main issue with TV Everywhere from the perspective of a user is the on-boarding process. For every participating site or channel, you have to log in again with your pay TV ID. My problem is I have no idea what my Verizon ID is even though I looked it up once to sign into HBO Go (another TV Everywhere participant). I have plenty of user IDs I use daily and know by heart. Verizon is not one of them. It would be so much easier if the TV Everywhere consortium let you log in with your Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, or AOL IDs—you know, something you use every day. And if you log into CNN, you shouldn’t have to log in again to HBO.

I’m sure it’s a great experience though. But to be honest, I never got past the log-in wall.