Looks like Cartoon Network is leading the charge at Time Warner, as the cable network plans to roll out an app with which kids can stream the linear network live via iPads, Android tablets and the like.
After Jeff Bewkes demanded that investors pressure MSOs into getting religion on the media giant's much-hyped (and some would say slow moving) TV Everywhere initiative, it was probably only a matter of time before some of the company's more widely available properties started taking a leaf from the HBO GO playbook to show what they could do.
So enter Cartoon Network, now a more attractive commodity to ad buyers since Nick's massive ratings drop and one of the few kids' cablers that isn't currently streaming content through Hulu or Netflix.
Adweek reported a few weeks ago that modern kids like the iPad enough to suggest that the future of children's television either includes it, or doesn't go a whole lot farther. With this new app, Cartoon gives kids a way to tap into the network's content without sacrificing vital ad revenue or cable revenue; the question, though, is how easy it will ultimately be for children to use (can you say "authentication" kids?). The service was unveiled at today's Los Angeles edition of the Cartoon Network upfront presentation.
If well received, a Cartoon Network streaming app could give a boost to TV Everywhere, and Bewkes wanted to get everybody in the TV food chain to play nice. For example, right now, MSOs have to allow consumers to authenticate so they can stream content online if they want to offer ad-supported VOD. And not every MSO is on board.
Strategically, adding the live stream would seem to increase TV Everywhere's value to the consumer, which is certainly something Time Warner could use as leverage in further negotiations with holdouts that don't incorporate the service into their cable packages.
Among those are Time Warner Cable (no relation), which has a vested interest in keeping its customers on its tiered data plan. This tension between content publishers (who want their material to be available on streaming) and ISPs (who want to cap data usage in order to incur overage charges), is likely to come to a head soon, as consumers get access to more and better streaming technology.