Stay tuned: Small screen app setback at Time Warner Cable

Apr 1, 2011
Finance

Want your MTV on your iPad? Well, you can’t always get what you want. News Corp., (NWS) Viacom (VIA) and Discovery (DISCA) ganged up on Time Warner Cable (TWC) for including MTV, FX and Discovery channels on its iPad app to steam live TV. Time Warner, which introduced the app last month, backed down and […]

Want your MTV on your iPad? Well, you can’t always get what you want.

News Corp., (NWS) Viacom (VIA) and Discovery (DISCA) ganged up on Time Warner Cable (TWC) for including MTV, FX and Discovery channels on its iPad app to steam live TV. Time Warner, which introduced the app last month, backed down and removed the channels.

Brian Steller in New York Times reports that the TV networks charged that Time Warner was violating their contracts by serving up TV on iPads. He noted the content providers “want cable companies like Time Warner Cable to pay them more for the privilege to stream their channels to portable devices. Viacom and the News Corporation had sent cease-and-desist letters to Time Warner Cable in recent days.”

Time Warner backed down in this case, but contended its subscribers should have the right to watch this programming on their iPads.

The company said in a statement: “(F)or the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers — and their viewers — to watch their programming on any screen in their homes. In the meantime, we will pursue all of our legal rights against the programmers who don’t share our vision.”

Other cable companies are working on apps to include their setbox programming on smaller screens, including tabs and smartphones. Cablevision has been testing an app to make all its channels and video on demand available and has submitted it to Apple (AAPL) for approval.

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Netflix (NFLX) and Hulu already have faced similar battles and are developing original programming.

The moves by the providers, especially Fox, puzzled Adrian Covert at Gizmodo because watching TV on an iPad essentially is the same thing as watching it on a big screen.

“In the case of Time Warner vs. Fox, the latter’s corporate paranoia defies all logic,” he said. “First off, the app does not deliver television on demand. It provides live streams of channels that the customer is already paying for as a cable subscriber. And secondly, the nationally aired ads that air don’t magically disappear when the video is streamed to an iPad.”

He said the program providers are greedy for considering streaming on a tab as premium service and delusional for thinking TV’s future is about coax cable and rigid programming schedules.

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