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TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is launching its iPad app tomorrow, becoming the first U.S. cable operator to boot up a version that streams out live, linear TV channels.

But the app won't support the MSO's full slate of linear programming. It will start with access to 30 basic channels in high-definition, though the plan is to add more, the Associated Press first reported Monday.

That much was expected. An industry source told Light Reading Cable in January that it was likely that most iPad and connected TV apps from MSOs such as TW Cable and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will start off with a subset of their linear lineups. The reason cited? Negotiating access rights for these new devices will simply take more time. (See Streaming a Subset of Live TV?, Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets , Verizon Goes iPad Crazy and Verizon FiOS App Streams NFL Games to iPads.)

But a lack of rights isn't the culprit in this case, TW Cable insists. "The reason we are starting with 30 channels is not a rights issue. That was the number of channels we were able to offer in the time frame we wanted to get the app out and into the hands of customers," an MSO spokesman tells Light Reading Cable in response to e-mailed questions, noting that the company intends to add channels to the iPad app "at a pretty regular interval."

The AP also noted that TW Cable's initial version won't let the iPad function like a remote control, access on-demand shows, or give access to shows stored on a local DVR. Future versions are expected to add those features.

TW Cable, which first talked up its plans for the iPad last August, will restrict TV-on-the-iPad viewing to inside the home and will offer the app only to customers who take the company's video and Internet services. The TW Cable spokesman acknowledged that offering access outside the home is indeed a rights issue and declined to say if and when the MSO might get such rights. (See TWC Preaches Openness With iPad Tilt .)

But that's how TW Cable typically operates in these situations. Start Over, a service that lets customers restart shows already in progress, was made active only on channels and shows TW Cable had rights for. To keep programmers happy, TW Cable also disables the fast-forward feature on any show being watched in Start Over mode. (See Time Warner Expands Start Over.)

That approach of asking for permission first rather than forgiveness later starkly contrasts with Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s. The satellite provider is using Sling Media Inc. technology in set-tops/receivers and in a new type of adapter to let customers place-shift video to iPads and other devices in and outside the home. (See TelcoTV 2010: Dish Ready to Serve 'Sling Adapter' and Dish Starts Selling 'Sling-Loaded' HD-DVR .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:28 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

As expected, TWC released its iPad app today with support for 33 (not 30, as originally believed) linear channels.  Here's what they're starting with:


 

<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class=" " style="background-color: #ffffff;" width="0">
<colgroup span="1"><col span="1" width="33%"><col span="1" width="33%"><col span="1" width="33%"></colgroup>
<tbody>
<tr>
<td class=" " style="border-width: 0px;" valign="top">

A&amp;E
ABC Family


AMC
Animal Planet
BET
Bravo
Cartoon Network
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central

</td>
<td class=" " style="border-width: 0px;" valign="top">Discovery
Disney Channel
E!
Food Network
Fox News
FX
Galavision
Hallmark Channel
HGTV
History
HLN</td>
<td class=" " style="border-width: 0px;" valign="top">Lifetime Movie Network
MSNBC
MTV HD
National Geographic
Nick
Spike
SyFy
TLC
Travel Channel
USA
VH1
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>

&nbsp;


The MSO said they'll be adding channels at regular intervals, but at the start some that are noticeably absent&nbsp;for now &nbsp;include ESPN and the broadcast networks.&nbsp; JB

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:25 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

Didn't take long for some unnamed cable network affiliates to start huffing and puffing about this new app.


With respect to the TWC iPad app an "affiliate chief" tells AdAge:
&ldquo;Distribution via any sort of third-party app is not addressed in our carriage deals with Time Warner Cable or any other operator. There is going to be a messy dissection of what the rights are, but our position is that [this sort of distribution] is not authorized by our affiliate agreements."


Huh. TWC insisted that the fact it only offered 33 channels at the start wasn't a rights issue, and that the issue on rights was centered around&nbsp;out-of-home access.&nbsp; Guess some folks on the content side beg to differ on this one.


Who's in the right here?&nbsp; If out-of-home access is restricted until such rights are obtained, should the&nbsp;iPad be viewed as just another screen in the house?


JB


&nbsp;

Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:10:25 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

Thanks Jeff - per prior posts on LR, TWC already announced streaming availability of ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNU, and ESPN Buzzer Beater,&nbsp;correct?&nbsp; So these channels are in addition to that?

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:24 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

Cooper1, Thanks for the reminder. You're right about that. They announced that deal&nbsp;in January, noting that those are offered through a central Website, ESPNnetworks.com.&nbsp; At the start, the list the MSO put out&nbsp;doesn't&nbsp; mention those channels as available on&nbsp;TWC iPad app yet, but imagine it's just a matter of time before they get those too. JB


&nbsp;

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:22 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

Looks like the popularity of the app early on is causing some early engineering troubles.&nbsp; TWC Director of Digital Communications Jeff Simmermon has been tweeting about the situation, promising that the MSO's engineers are on the case "and should have a fix very soon."


Anyone try it out yet? What do you think of it?


JB


&nbsp;

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:21 PM
re: TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV

We'll have more on this later this morning, but BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield reasons that the ESPN content might not be offered on the ipad yet because ESPN sends regional streams in some cases and perhaps support on how to handle that on the ipad has yet to be sorted out. JB

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