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TW Cable Circles the iPad Wagons

Jeff Baumgartner
3/29/2011

2:25 PM -- It's on.

In response to bubbling furor from cable channels about Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s new iPad app, the MSO has launched an "I Want My TWCable TV App" campaign promoting "more freedom to watch on more screens." [Ed. note: Well, all this "I Want My" business worked pretty well for MTV back when it still ran music videos, so what the hell?]

Noting that the app has been downloaded more than 300,000 times since its March 15 debut, TW Cable adds that "some TV networks want to take the free app away. Why? They're worried about their bottom lines." Here's a glimpse of the MSO's handiwork:



The spat between the MSO and some programmers over the app, which lets customers stream 32 linear channels in their homes (with more to come), has not reached the formal cease-and-desist level, but it's expected to come to that soon enough. (See TW Cable, Programmers Brace for iPad App Battle.)

Out in the mainstream, The New York Times just took its crack at the brewing battle, noting that the issue is over rights and (more) money: Programmers think MSOs should be paying a premium for the privilege, but the MSO believes it's already covered. "Portability is a different business proposition," an exec with one of the "major channel owners" tells the paper. (See High Demand Crashes TWC's iPad App and Why Is Sling Getting a Free Pass? )

So this brouhaha has put TW Cable on the defensive and looking for its own customers to rally alongside it. "We're standing up for you," the MSO tells its customers, offering shades of its "Roll Over or Get Tough" campaign on programmer price increases. "You've already paid for these programs to be delivered to your home, and we believe you should be able to watch these programs anywhere in your house, on any screen you want."

And TW Cable likewise believes it has already paid programmers for that privilege, too, but the campaign doesn't point the finger at any individual networks and, for now, doesn't involve much in the way of direct-to-consumer communication.

But that may all change. According to a copy of an internal memo obtained by Light Reading Cable, "Phase 2" of the campaign will come into play "when/if any specific programmers ratchet up their rhetoric publicly…" At that point, the MSO "will more plainly state our case, and invite customers to become more involved in the discussion."

So far, Scripps Networks , owner of Food Network and HGTV, has been the most vocal.

Remember when the TV Everywhere debate centered around seemingly benign things like technical standards and common "authentication" systems? Child's play. It's now a big business issue, and the gloves are about to be replaced by brass knuckles . (See TV Everywhere Starts Getting Somewhere and CableLabs Issues TV Everywhere Specs .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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