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Time Warner’s iPad App Lawsuitarama: Every Day Brings a Whole New Channel Lineup

Phillip Dampier April 12, 2011 Consumer News, Online Video, Time Warner Cable 1 Comment

iPad Owners:  Don’t get too comfortable with the channel lineup on Time Warner Cable’s free app for watching streamed HD video of some of your favorite cable networks.  What you see today may be gone tomorrow (or replaced by something else.)

Time Warner Cable’s ongoing effort to implement their TV Everywhere-vision have run headlong into a legal quagmire as some content owners object to the new service.

Back in March when the app first appeared, the cable company was offering a few dozen channels of national cable feeds, with a heavy emphasis on news and mainstream cable networks.  But then Viacom, News Corp., and Discovery Communications protested, claiming the cable operator had not negotiated streaming rights for their networks.  Viacom and Time Warner Cable are currently suing one another over the matter.

Although some programmers use the excuse streamed video could reach “unauthorized viewers who do not have a cable subscription,” viewing restrictions imposed by Time Warner Cable makes that unlikely.  The cable operator requires viewers to watch from a Time Warner Cable Wi-Fi broadband connection.  Wi-Fi hotspots don’t work; neither does access from 3G or 4G mobile broadband networks.  The cable company says that restriction is by design.

“We believe that the location inside the home grants us the rights, provided the method of delivery is over a traditional cable network which is exactly what we’re doing,” Time Warner Cable’s Alex Dudley told NY1, Time Warner’s 24-hour news channel in New York City. “This is not programming delivered over the Internet; this is delivered over our network just like your cable television is delivered, and then to your Wi-Fi router where it reaches your iPad.”

So it is really about money.  Programmers want extra compensation from the cable company for streaming their content, and the cable company doesn’t want to pay extra.

While negotiators and the courts untangle the mess, the cable operator has been adding some channels while deleting others.  The big losers: Animal Planet, Black Entertainment Television, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, FX, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Spike, TLC and VH1 — are all currently off the lineup.

The winners: C-SPAN, which gets all three of its channels streamed.  A variety of other “enlightened” (Time Warner Cable’s words) cable networks have given the green light to be a part of the project.  Recently added: AMC, Bio, Bloomberg, CNBC World, Chiller, Current, Disney XD, ESPN News, G4, Golf Channel, History International, HSN, IFC, Jewelry TV, Lifetime, NY1, Oxygen, QVC, Reelz, Sleuth, Soap Channel, Style, and Tru TV.  (In New York City, Galavision, History en Español, PBS Kids Sprout, and We are also included.)

For channels like Bio, Chiller, Current, and Reelz — buried in Digital Channel Siberia on the cable dial only to be found by the most ardent channel surfers — getting a prominent place on an app with just a few dozen channels competing for viewers is exposure gold.

We’ve tested the app here at STC HQ and found the picture quality and responsiveness to be excellent.  Channel changing is nearly as fast on the app as it is on our set top box — quite an accomplishment.  But the restrictions imposed by Time Warner really limit the app’s usefulness.  After all, if you want to watch television at home, why reach for an iPad when your television remote control is nearby.  But for those without digital cable boxes, or who want to wander around the house while watching, Time Warner’s app is useful, and better yet — free to those who already subscribe to cable television.

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Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Smith6612 says:

    As mentioned, I don’t understand what the big deal is about allowing iPads access to stream TV over a person’s home connection and no where else. It’s just like having another TV in the house, except without cables (For as long as the battery lasts :P).







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