Cablevision to Stream Full TV Lineup to iPads
Cease-and-desist letters from U.S. programmers could be flying fast and furious based on the plans Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has in store for its coming iPad application.
Rather that starting off with an app that limits the number of linear channels a customer can pipe to the iPad in their homes, the MSO intends to offer Cablevision's full linear lineup, Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella says. [Ed. note: As in important distinction, Cablevision won't be streaming those channels over the public Internet, but will instead deliver them to the tablets via its secure network, in IP format.]
By comparison, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) launched its iPad app with the ability to stream 32 linear channels, though the plan is to expand that figure. The MSO had to trim that to 15 channels temporarily because high demand crashed the app, which is relying on TW Cable's proprietary network to shuttle the IP feeds from a centralized bank of servers based at a Denver-area facility. (See High Demand Crashes TWC's iPad App and TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV.)
Cablevision, meanwhile, plans to offer the whole linear lineup when it gets its iPad app in customer hands. And possibly more. Last August, Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge noted that the company's iPad app will cover broadcast TV, its expanded basic services and video on demand. "Everything that is part of our cable television service will display on an IP device," he said at the time. (See Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad.)
Cablevision hasn't identified a launch date, but it's getting close. The ball is now in Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s court.
"We have launched our Optimum App for iPad on Cablevision's campus and in approximately 100 employee homes and it works wonderfully," Maiella said, in a statement first reported by Multichannel News. "The application has been submitted to Apple and, upon its approval, will be available to our cable television customers."
The arrival of Cablevision's app will come amid growing tensions between programmers and TW Cable. Although no lawsuits have been filed, Fox, which operates cable channels such as FX, has sent TW Cable a cease-and-desist letter, claiming the app is not covered by existing distribution agreements. TW Cable believes its contracts cover streaming to iPads in customer homes, viewing the tablet as just another screen or outlet. (See Fox to TW Cable: Stop Streaming Our Stuff .)
However, the threat of lawsuits has caused TW Cable to blink first. On Thursday afternoon, the MSO said it removed 12 channels from its iPad lineup, including networks operated by Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA), News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) and Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK).
"We will will be providing replacement channels as quickly as we can, perhaps as early as tomorrow," the MSO said in this post. "We will continue to fight to ensure that you have access to the content you pay for, no matter which screen in your home you choose to view it on."
Like TW Cable, Cablevision's iPad app will prevent customers from accessing linear channels outside the reach of their home's Wi-Fi access point.
Based on recent history with TW Cable, cease-and-desist letters may follow Cablevision's iPad app launch, but it won't be the first time the operator has dealt with a major programming rights issue. For them, this sort of stuff is old hat.
Cablevision fought for (and won) a copyright case central to its recently launched Remote-Storage DVR service, currently available to its customers in the Bronx. (See Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx and DoJ: Butt Out of Cablevision RS-DVR Case .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable