The commercial launch of the Optimum App for Laptop in Cablevision's East Coast systems, where the MSO competes with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), follows its introduction of a similar app for Apple's iOS devices last year. The company says its Optimum App for Apple iOS devices has been downloaded more than 1 million times. Cablevision won't say when it intends to extend support for the app to the 300,000 customers it has in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Montana from the Bresnan Communications acquisition. (See Cablevision Goes Country With Bresnan Buy.)
The new app for PCs and Macs includes a social networking feature that provides info on the five "most watched" shows based on what other customers are currently viewing. The app still does not let customers stream live TV channels beyond the reach of their home Wi-Fi signal, though Cablevision and other MSOs hope to add out-of-home rights as they strike new carriage deals with programmers.
Why this matters
PCs and laptops have emerged as another key piece of screen real estate MSOs are targeting as they look for ways to retain video customers and fend off over-the-top video competition. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has also launched a live TV app for PCs, complementing its work on iOS and, more recently, for devices upgraded to the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS.
But native streaming to homebound devices isn't the only technical path MSOs are taking. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), for example, is letting customers in select markets ship live TV signals to iPads and Xoom tablets over Wi-Fi via a specialized transcoding device outfitted with a CableCARD that converts incoming MPEG-2 video signals into IP-based MPEG-4.
- TWC Streams Live TV to Androids
- TW Cable Streams Live TV to PCs
- Cablevision, Viacom Fight Over iPad App
- Comcast Beams Live TV to the iPad
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable