Time Warner Brings Live Cable TV to iPad

Dave Zatz —  March 15, 2011 — 10 Comments

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While Comcast was first to announce their intentions to bring live cable television to the iPad, Time Warner Cable is first to execute with the release of  TWCable TV today:

Now you can watch your favorite networks on your iPad in your home! If you are a Time Warner Cable video subscriber, the FREE TWCable TV™ app turns your iPad into another TV screen and lets you watch selected live cable TV channels with your home WiFi connection. Watch Bravo from your bedroom, take Food Network with you to the kitchen, or catch up on CNBC news from the breakfast table. Watch selected live streaming TV channels now, and stay tuned for future releases with additional channels and expanded app functionality from Time Warner Cable.

DISH Network would like to remind us that they were the first provider to offer live (and recorded) content via their Slingbox-enabled VIP 922 DVR. But it’s a bit of a trade off. They provide access to all channels from within and beyond the home, yet it’s potentially a kludgy experience. (And the more attention they get, the more likely it is that the studios will object to that unlicensed placeshifting beyond the home.)

TWC’s iPad app looks pretty smooth by comparison and content is streamed directly from their servers, versus being relayed from one’s set-top box (and commandeering a tuner). About 30 channels are available at launch, but I expect this number to grow as the studios grow accustomed to the idea that a cable receiver is something more than a Motorola or Cisco produced box that sits under a television.

As “cable” distribution migrates to Internet pipelines, one wonders how metered broadband or caps will play into this… It’s going to get interesting.

10 responses to Time Warner Brings Live Cable TV to iPad

  1. I have an iPad 2 on the way. Convinced my employer I need one. Now i can finally try out all the Apps that Dave talks about…

  2. As a TW cable customer, at first this sounded promising as a way to justify my purchasing my first iPad. The initial channels that they will offer are appealing. But then I saw all of the restrictions: limited to TW Internet subscribers, and only accessible from the customer’s home network. Since I use a competitive Internet provider (Frontier DSL) I would be out of luck.

    I would be more interested if I could use this service when I am traveling. Or better yet, provide access to on-demand programming.

    All in all, while this demonstrates that the technology works, I’m not ready to jump (yet).

  3. I know all the media companies are fighting to stop this sort of thing. Inside the home even. But definitely outside the home. I wonder if they are aware of what is going to happen to them in the long run.

    After being trained to watch Al Jazeera English on my laptop or iPad or iPhone for updates on Egypt in recent times, I’ve been watching it lately for updates on the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear situation. Why? Because they allow it. The CNN app only offers an End of Stream for some White House briefing they made available earlier. BBC has no video at all, just text.

    Users of these platforms are learning that they should turn to Al Jazeera English for their news as a result, and I might worry about the CNN and BBC brands in the long run.

    I know there are a million issues here–there’s no local ad insertion so only global ads can work if they can even do anything, it might hurt their cable revenue, etc. But they are taking a risk not being on these platforms as young people learn to use the internet for all their news and these brands lose their hold on people.

  4. Is this in all TWC areas?

  5. Looks like the legal threats have started:

    http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3i4712878da6c80b4911c265b92d3f2987

    It isn’t clear from the article whether the media companies rattling their sabers at Time Warner are the ones whose channels are currently in the app, or just media companies in general. I had assumed the limited channel selection meant that Time Warner had negotiated with these channels prior to launch. Maybe not?

    The channel list is an odd mix of 2nd tier channels for many companies (FX but not FOX, MSNBC but not NBC, ABC Family but not ABC, etc). And oddly doesn’t include Time Warner’s own in house channels…

  6. I downloaded it last night and couldn’t get it to work. Sure smells like a beta. The registration process was very slow. I only got it to the channel page once and then it crashed.

    Ipad 1, v4.3

  7. Hmm, works fine now. It must have been server problems at their end.

  8. Zeo, not sure but I thought so.

    Greg, TWC did mention they were overloaded yesterday.

  9. As a follow up, DISH has pinged me twice in regards to my “kludgy” descriptor in discussing the Slingified DVR. I wasn’t interested in a con call, so this was my brief email response:

    Nothing that I haven’t previously discussed with the team or blogged before. Relaying content via/thru one’s home network increases complexity and latency. Additionally, a tuner is co-opted. I also don’t love the mobile interface. But you obviously gain a whole lot of power and flexibility in return. TWC’s iPad app is dead simple and attractive. Given their solution, in terms of technology, I’d say they’re the first large scale provider to offer live pay TV on the iPad. Whereas a SlingLoaded or other home-based placeshifting solution is a “retransmission” that the home owner facilitates.

  10. This is a nearly pointless app. I have tvs all over the place in my house. Maybe if I had kids…

    No use outside the house where I could actually use it? Cmon TW!

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