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Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

2:30 PM -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has said precious little about its coming plan to stream live TV to iPad and Android tablets later this year, other than to say that it will start off by limiting access to that content only in the home. On-demand content, by contrast, will be accessible from anywhere, so long as the customer is authorized to view it. (See Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets .)

It all ties into the MSO's evolving TV Everywhere strategy, but, in the case of live TV streaming to tablets like the iPad, it's limited to everywhere in the customer's home. They'll still need to buy a Slingbox or something like it to bring all their TV goodness with them.

We suggested that Comcast likely isn't saying much about the live TV aspects of its iPad app because it's trying to get the rights hammered out -- something that this Mediaweek story appears to confirm, with one "affiliate chief" telling the mag that its carriage deal with the MSO doesn't cover distribution to "any sort of third-party app."

The same argument might also end up applying to cable's attempt to offer services via IP to broadband-connected TVs. (See Comcast, Networks Spar Over iPad App , CES 2011: TW Cable, Sony Make IPTV Connection and CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture.)

But during our travels at International CES last week, an industry source who claims to have some knowledge of Comcast's iPad plans suggested that the MSO may start off by offering access to about 45 channels -- obviously limiting the offering only to networks for which Comcast has rights to redistribute... even within the customer's home. From there, we're told, Comcast will add channels as it obtains more rights.

Consider this speculation at this juncture because Comcast hasn't said anything about how much of its live TV slate will or won't be offered on the iPad when the app is updated sometime later this year. In fact, Comcast may end up holding off until it can replicate its entire linear lineup (or the bulk of it) on tablets and other IP-connected displays.

However, such a situation does symbolize the kind of business barriers and resistance that MSOs, along with other video service providers, will face as they look to flesh out their TVE strategies.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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