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Time Warner Cable Cuts iPad Live TV Access 50%

16 Mar, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Time Warner Cable March 16 slashed the number of channels available for live streaming on the Apple iPad — less than 24 hours after launching the TV Everywhere app.

The No. 2 cable operator reduced to 15 channels from the original 32 offered up as the first-ever live TV broadcasts available for streaming on a portable media device. The concept allows participating media providers to grant unlimited on-demand access across multiple devices to monthly subscribers at no additional charge.

TWC said the reduction in channels was due to problems authenticating the surge in users attempting to access the content. BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield questioned whether content owners, networks groups and others had suddenly become alarmed about the possible compromise of incremental revenue streams and data tracking (ratings).

Greenfield said TWC removed Disney (Disney Channel, ABC Family, Lifetime Movie Network), Discovery (Animal Planet), Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Spike, VH1, CMT), Fox (F/X, National Geographic), Rainbow/Cablevision (AMC), Univision (Galavision), Scripps (Travel Channel) and Hallmark.

Remaining channels included Time Warner Networks (such as CNN and HLN), Discovery, TLC, A&E, History, Fox News, Food Channel and HGTV, and all NBC Universal networks such as Bravo, CNBC, E!, MSNBC, USA and Syfy.

NBC Universal is owned by Comcast, which is planning to launch its own portable media device access through the cable operator's Xfinity TV platform.

“We believe several cable network groups are seriously considering filing lawsuits against Time Warner Cable and sending cease and desist letters to TWC to stop them from in-home live streaming to iPads without a new contract (meaning ‘more’ money),” Greenfield wrote in a .

The analyst is a firm believer that the rush to embrace emerging low-margin distribution channels such as subscription video-on-demand (Netflix and Amazon), kiosks (Redbox) and TV Everywhere pose risks to higher-margin revenue streams, including physical and electronic sellthrough. In addition to adequate content firewalls, Greenfield believes license fees should reflect the rapidly changing consumption of entertainment by the consumer while also safeguarding media companies that produce the content.

Yet, CBS, beginning March 17, will stream the entire NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament (“March Madness”) to broadband-enabled portable devices without authentication.

“[Multichannel cable operators] should not be happy that a major sporting event is available for free online without the need for authentication,” Greenfield . “While it was one thing a few years ago when TV Everywhere was just an idea, it is surprising that nothing has changed in 2011, especially in the face of rapidly growing retransmission consent fees and every-increasing cable network license fees.”

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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