TW Cable, Viacom Take iPad Fight to Court
The battle over Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s new iPad app is starting to get really messy.
After receiving a cease-and-desist notice from Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA), TW Cable shot back Thursday by asking a federal court to confirm that the MSO has the rights to deliver the live feeds of MTV and other Viacom-owned networks to home-bound iPads.
"We have steadfastly maintained that we have the rights to allow our customers to view this programming in their homes, over our cable systems, without artificial limits on the screens they can use to do so, and we are asking the court to confirm our view," MSO EVP and General Counsel Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum said in a statement. TWC filed its request with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
TW Cable launched the app in mid-March, starting off with access to 32 linear TV channels. The MSO removed 12 of them last week after getting static from Viacom, Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) and Fox, which argued that the MSO's carriage agreement did not include rights for devices such as iPads, even if viewing is restricted to customer homes.
Viacom reinforced that view in a countersuit, holding that it "has always negotiated rights to distribute our content based on specific technologies and devices to ensure that the unique business issues, such as security, product quality and audience measurement, are properly addressed," according to Multichannel News.
TW Cable, which has since added a number of other channels to extend its iPad total to 43, did not name Discovery or Fox in its filing with the New York court. Consumers have downloaded TW Cable's new app more than 360,000 times so far.
Why this matters
How the court rules could have a profound effect on how rapidly MSOs deploy similar applications. If the court sides with Viacom's argument, it could slow down progress, keep the number of channels available to iPads limited, and possibly force TW Cable and other MSOs to renegotiate for that access. If TW Cable comes out of it on top, it could open the floodgates for other operators that have been hesitant to pull the trigger on apps that can stream live TV to iPads and other IP-connected devices.
Missed a twist or turn in this clash between MSOs and programmers? Get your fix in the items below:
- Comcast Keeps Eye on the iPad Prize
- TW Cable's iPad TV App Changes Channels
- TW Cable Circles the iPad Wagons
- Cablevision iPad App Hits 50K Downloads
- Cablevision Launches iPad App With 280+ Channels
- TWC iPad App Buckles Under Demand
- TWC's iPad App Launches With (Some) Live TV
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable