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Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad

Light Reading
LR Cable News Analysis
Light Reading

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) says it is developing IP video applications that will allow subscribers to view cable programming on broadband-connected devices, including Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPads and a range of smartphones. Customers will also be able to use IP devices to navigate digital video content on their TVs.

But unlike TV Everywhere Websites, such as those from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and other MSOs, which allow subscribers access to to premium content from remote locations, COO Tom Rutledge says subscribers will only be able to get that subscription TV fare from their residences.

“When you look at an iPad, and you are in a Cablevision household, you’ll be able to get every service we provide -- VoD, broadcast television, all of our expanded basic services. Everything that is part of our cable television service will display on an IP device,” Rutledge said on today's second-quarter earnings call. (See Cablevision Reports Q2.)

Rutledge said Cablevision is also developing interactive program guides that will run on iPads, iPhones, Android phones, and PCs, which will allow customers to use those devices to navigate content on TVs in their home. “Those kinds of products are coming to the market in the very near future.”

Cablevision hasn't detailed when it will launch those apps or start to take advantage of those devices as a way to navigate the MSO's TV service.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) have said they are developing similar products. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts revealed at The Cable Show in May that Comcast would launch an “Xfinity Remote” product later this year that will allow subscribers to use an iPad or iPhone as a TV remote control. (See To Xfinity... & Beyond!)

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt told Light Reading Cable at the show the MSO and other operators are working with CableLabs and Apple to allow subscribers to use Apple devices as remote controls to navigate cable TV content. (See Cable Hearts Apple .)

Rutledge noted Cablevision’s strategy is different than TV Everywhere. He also contrasted it to the approach EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS) takes with its Slingbox and SlingPlayer Mobile software, which allows users to "place-shift" their linear and on-demand TV services to myriad mobile devices over the Internet.

“I think there are some questions about the rights structure around that business,” Rutledge said of the Sling products.

Cablevision has also reached the “testing and verification” phase with its developing "PC to TV Media Relay" service, which will enable subscriber access to Web video content from PCs on their TVs, Rutledge said. The MSO is scheduled to launch the product in the fourth quarter. (See Cablevision Shows Its Innovative Side and Cablevision to Deliver Net Content to Set-Tops).

“It is a technical test, and we find that it works,” Rutledge said in response to an analyst who asked for a progress report on the product testing.

Rutledge said the second phase of testing for Cablevision’s network-based Remote Storage-DVR (RS-DVR) is underway in New York City. He said Cablevision will begin rolling out the RS-DVR product, which will eventually replace physical DVRs, later this year. (See Cablevision RS-DVR Gets Limited Deployment.)

The pricing for the RS-DVR will be the same as that for its physical DVR set-top, which currently costs $9.95 monthly, according to Rutledge.

"It [RS-DVR] is a better product in that it is a whole home product -- it may even have more pricing power than the existing DVR. Our objective with the RS-DVR is to make it our DVR and make it indistinguishable as a product from our current DVR, and we’re not going to cannibalize our existing DVR revenue stream."

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:27:57 PM
re: Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad

Cablevision, of course, is not the first entity to call the Sling model into question over copyright, but i believe not allowing some mobile access will limit the appeal of this effort could give VZ a chance to differentiate in the TVE area.  But they could make up for that in other ways with RS-DVR and the coming PC to TV Media relay service, but I think they'll need to reconsider a stronger mobile video play down the road. JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:27:55 PM
re: Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad

I was a bit surprised that Tom Rutledge emphasized that Cablevision would only allow subs to view content on the iPad and other IP-connected devcies inside their homes, but I think it could eventually look to distribute video to mobile devices outside the home through Optimum WiFi hot spots. Cablevision is focused on expanding its WiFi footprint, putting hotspots on trains, retail outlets, public beaches, central business districts in each of the towns it serves. It could be positioning itself to charge subscribers a premium if they want to watch cable TV on an iPad or other mobile devices on a train or at the beach. A product like that could help it compete with Verizon. The biggest challenge is probably the rights issue, but if CVC can boost revenue for cable networks by offering such a product, maybe programmers would support it.  


Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:27:54 PM
re: Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad

Yeah, they'll probably have to eventually... guess we'll have to see if they'll end up charging a premium or bundle it as "free." . And good point on WiFi. What use is it building all that out if it can't help on the mobile video front?

But found it interesting to hear the sensitive concerns on rights issues after all the to-do with some major studios and networks over its RS-DVR project.  But hard to disagree with Cablevision's lawyerly logic when it comes down to it. They eventually came out on top on the rs-dvr case even when things looked bleak for awhile. If they think there's any concern about place-shifting without programmer consent, I suppose if Cablevision sees any concerns there, they probably have a good reason to think that way.

Also, what's interesting to point out is that Echostar has built in a way that makes slinging more selective in its MSO biz model. For example, Echostar does allow operators options that allow only in-home place-shifting (how CVC wants to go after this initially) and the ability to disable place-shifting on a channel-by-channel basis. So Echostar's clearly sensitive to this, too, or at least is posturing as such in case cable operators it wants to sell products express such concerns.  BUt any of those options would certainly lobotomize what consumers can get by buying Sling gear straight at retail, but not offering those options could be a deal-breaker on the MSO front, I suppose.  JB


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:27:43 PM
re: Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad

Wondering if the in-home restriction is related to the legal ruling on RS-DVR?  Seems clear that Cablevision will using the RS-DVR infrastructure to deliver on their version of TV Everywhere, and perhaps the legal ruling is specific to in-home viewing being considered fair use?

The obvious advantage of using RS-DVR to deliver this is that Cablevision does not have to negotiate separate streaming rights from programmers on a channel by channel, show by show basis - by delivering it over an infrastructure where the end consumer decides what to record (and subsequently view on other devices in their home), Cablevision avoids the negotiation with the programmers for separate streaming rights.

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