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Verizon FiOS App Streams NFL Games to iPads

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has launched an application that allows owners of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)’s iPad to watch live video from National Football League games on the tablets.

The “FiOS Football” app, which became available for download in November on the iTunes Store, doesn’t allow subscribers to view every NFL game. It runs a stream of the NFL RedZone channel, which whips around to live coverage from Sunday NFL games once a team is inside the 20-yard line.

FiOS subscribers must be within reach of the WiFi router in their homes to view the channel, and cannot watch live video from NFL Redzone if they bring their iPads to other homes with FiOS TV. They also must be subscribers to the NFL Redzone linear channel, which costs $49.99 annually.

In its description on the iTunes Store, Verizon says the FiOS Football app as a “limited-time beta trial application.” The company doesn’t say how long the app will be available for, and Verizon officials declined to comment on questions regarding the app.

While Verizon may only be distributing FiOS Football as a test with the NFL, its availability is noteworthy, as it makes Verizon the first pay-TV provider to stream live video from a linear cable network to the iPad. Verizon first demonstrated its iPad app at a briefing with reporters in August, saying that it wanted to begin distributing live video to the tablet in 2011. (See Verizon Goes iPad Crazy and Everyone's Mad About the iPad .)

Verizon is one of several pay TV providers developing apps for the iPad. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) last month launched its Xfnity TV app, which allows subscribers to use their iPads as remote controls to navigate linear and on-demand programming on their TVs. (See Comcast Invades the iPad .)

Comcast said that it would allow subscribers to download movies and TV shows to the iPad beginning this month, but the MSO hasn’t announced plans to stream live cable channels to the iPad.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) are also developing apps for the iPad. (See Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad.)

The NFL debuted the Redzone channel in 2009, partly as a strategy to appease cable affiliates that have complained about DirecTV’s exclusive deal to carry the popular “NFL Sunday Ticket” subscription package, which allows its subscribers to view every weekly NFL game in their entirety. RedZone counts more than 80 cable affiliates, including Comcast, Cox Communications Inc., Dish Network, Insight Communications, GCI, and dozens of small and mid-sized MSOs.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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