Programmers Silent as Cablevision Launches iPad App

On the heels of similar offerings from Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Cablevision has begun rolling out an app that allows subscribers to stream live and on-demand content to their iPads.

Cablevision’s Optimum Live TV for iPad app provides streaming access to some 300 live cable networks and roughly 2,000 VOD selections. Having surveyed the landscape––since launching its tablet app in March, TWC has been getting pushback from programmers––Cablevision has said that not only does its new offering jibe with its existing carriage deals, but the app also meets all technical requirements for audience measurement.

Upon launch of the iPad app, the consumer’s tablet is transformed into a virtual TV set. Because the content is delivered via Cablevision’s secure digital TV network rather than the Internet, the distribution scheme is covered by the operator’s standing affiliate agreements.

While the app has been available for nearly 48 hours, programmers seem to be cutting Cablevision a little slack. This may be a function of the operator’s stated ability to provide viewer data, which would go a long way toward assuaging programmers’ fears that they won’t be compensated for any tablet-hosted deliveries.

Back in January, when Comcast first launched its tablet-streaming app, programmers noted that Cablevision was “going out of their way” to make sure they had the necessary agreements in place before rolling out their own iPad service. The fact that the Long Island, N.Y.-based MSO has shown no interest in allowing subs to take the content out of their homes may be working in its favor.

Per Cablevision’s terms of service, OLT users must agree to use the live TV app “only within the boundaries of his or her residence”; moreover, the end-user must password protect his or her home router in order to ensure the security of the in-home wireless network. That latter condition is something of a safety net, given that the operator already encrypts all signals originating at its head-end.

Cablevision has a history of prevailing over programmers in copyright scraps. After a consortium of networks sued to block the operator’s network-DVR rollout, a higher court found Cablevision well within its rights to offer the remote-storage service.

Thus far, the Cablevision app is earning positive reviews from subscribers who’ve downloaded the app. Of the 252 users who have weighed in on iTunes, 173 (69 percent) have given the service a five-star rating. Only 45 respondents (18 percent) gave the app a single star.

As Cablevision fires the latest salvo in the war for control of TV 2.0, Time Warner Cable continues to juggle content on its own tablet offering. After Viacom, Fox Cable and Discovery Communications demanded to have their networks pulled from TWC’s iPad roster, the operator added a host of new channels, including A&E, Bravo, ESPNews, Food Network and truTV.