Even though Time Warner Cable last week removed some channels from its iPad application, under cease-and-desist orders from a few cable networks, Cablevision is forging ahead with an iPad app that delivers its entire cable-TV lineup.
Last Saturday, Cablevision launched the “Optimum App for iPad,” which it says delivers the full cable TV experience to the tablet device and allows the iPad to function as a TV. The only limitation is that the programming only can be viewed within the subscriber’s home. The app is free to existing “Optimum” cable TV customers.
The app can deliver approximately 300 live channels and access to video on demand (VoD). Programming is fully searchable, and the app includes the ability to schedule DVR recordings and to manage previously recorded content.
“It gives our customers the additional flexibility and convenience of watching television throughout the home, in places where set-top boxes might not be ideal or even practical, like the kitchen, bathroom or work room," said Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s COO, in a statement.
Rutledge also alluded to the potentially thin ice on which Cablevision is skating: "Cablevision uses its secure and proprietary Advanced Digital Cable television network to deliver cable programming to customers for viewing on the Optimum App for iPad, and content is not delivered over the Internet. Cablevision has the right to distribute programming over its cable system to iPads configured in this way under its existing distribution agreements with programming providers."
Cablevision has been working on its iPad application for quite some time (for more, click here), so it couldn’t have been pleased when certain cable networks threatened to sue Time Warner Cable just last week for streaming their content over TWC’s new iPad app.
On April 1, Jeff Simmermon, director of digital communications at Time Warner Cable, posted the following on the company’s blog: "Yesterday, we yanked a bunch of channels from our brand new iPad app. These channels are owned by Fox, Discovery, and Viacom networks. And instead of rowing down the river of history and into the future, these programmers have chosen to sit on the bank and kick rocks."
TWC removed 11 channels owned by the complaining networks from its iPad app, including Discovery Channel, FX, MTV and Nickelodeon. But the MSO soon added programming from 24 other channels, including such heavyweights as Disney, E!, HGTV, ESPNnews and CNBC.
For its part, Cablevision is claiming its distribution agreements for switched digital video cover distribution to the iPad. Its statement reads: "Cablevision has been serving customers with switched digital cable for more than five years. Advanced Digital Cable allows the company to switch in multiple digital formats, as its customers continue to buy the latest display devices."
The fact that customers don’t need to have Internet access to use Cablevision’s iPad app may provide some legal cover; the content comes from the operator’s headend to an Optimum-authorized cable modem. The modem must be connected to a secured wireless router, which then distributes the content wirelessly within the subscriber’s home.