Heavy Reading Research

The Rise of Cable Apps

During the recent 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), evidence surfaced of cable's growing interest in IP video platforms and broadband-connected devices. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are leading cable toward a new, starring role on the screens of broadband-connected TVs and computer tablets.

In addition to providing broadband connections behind the screen, cable is becoming an app on the front of the screen, according to a new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, "Click Me! Cable Becomes an App on Consumer Electronics." On TV screens and devices such as the iPad from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), cable MSO icons increasingly appear in app stores alongside Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), YouTube Inc. , Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and other over-the-top (OTT) video players.

Click on the cable app and users will get online access to their cable company's on-demand content, DVR features and -- if all the content rights are in place and the user is an authorized cable customer -- live TV streamed to the connected device.

At CES, Samsung Corp. displayed so-called smart TVs with on-screen apps for Time Warner Cable's online content and Comcast's Xfinity offerings. Starting later this year, the MSOs' customers can buy a Samsung smart TV, hook it up to a broadband connection and go through a TV Everywhere authentication process that will give them access to certain TV fare, without a cable set-top box (STB) or CableCARD. Also at CES, Sony displayed an upcoming Time Warner Cable app for the MSOs' on-demand content on broadband-connected Bravia TVs.

Other ways are surfacing to bring cable content via broadband to connected devices, the report says. Comcast plans to bring streaming of live TV programming to Apple iPads and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android-powered devices later this year, but it will limit that capability to in-home streaming, at least at the start. Comcast launched its Xfinity TV App for iPads in November 2010, and by early February 2011, the MSO said it had more than 1 million downloads. It already enables more than 3,000 hours of streamed content through its PlayNow feature.

This Cable Insider report takes a look at the prospects for connected devices and their role in cable's migration toward IP video. It includes profiles of six CES exhibitors that presented ways for cable to bring cable apps to market on connected devices.

Among those efforts, cable interactive TV supplier ActiveVideo and Funai Electronics announced a deal to bring cloud-based content to Funai smart TVs. Another well-known cable ITV supplier, Alticast Corp. , presented a way for cable operators to migrate tru2way to the Android platform. TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and Sling Media Inc. offered other ways for cable to spread content to connected devices.

The report says the demos at CES mark just a small step in cable's budding relationship with connected devices, OTT video content, TV Everywhere services and delivery of TV networks using IP capability. To be successful, the industry must resolve technical challenges, business issues and, most of all, programming rights conflicts.

— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider

The report, Click Me! Cable Becomes an App on Consumer Electronics, is available as part of an annual subscription (6 bimonthly issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/cable.

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