On Saturday, two weeks after Time Warner Cable (TWC) introduced an iPad app, Cablevision offered its own version of iPad TV broadcasts called the Optimum app. The service is available in the homes of Cablevision customers and it offers all the channels and video-on-demand services that TV subscribers are signed up for.
The move by Cablevision and Time Warner Cable highlights the building rivalry with Netflix, the Internet firm that has been expanding its video streaming beyond movies to TV programming. Cable companies have seen mass defections as subscribers cut the so-called cord and seek cheaper TV and movie alternatives over the Internet.
The response by the cable industry is an initiative called TV anywhere, which promises to deliver the full TV package to any device. Cablevision says the Optimum application, which effectively makes the iPad a TV, is part of a broader plan to put subscribers' video on a range of mobile devices. This seems to imply apps for Google's (GOOG) Android phones and tablets.TV programmers like Scripps Networks (SNI) and Viacom (VIA) are not fully on board with the cable companies' tablet TV plan. Both Scripps and Viacom initially objected to Time Warner Cable's iPad app, saying the cable company hadn't gained approval to stream TV to iPads. Cablevision says it is using its own virtual set-top box technology to deliver the video to iPads, and says it is not using the Internet for TV distribution. And in an attempt to preempt any legal disputes, Cablevision said in its press release that it "has the right to distribute programming over its cable system to iPads configured in this way under its existing distribution agreements with programming providers." Cablevision declined to comment on whether there has been any reaction from any media companies. Cablevision did say that the Optimum App is the top download in the entertainment category in the Apple App Store and is the ninth most popular download overall. One apparent loser in Cablevision's shift away from cable box hardware is Cisco (CSCO), the No. 1 set-top box supplier to Cablevision. The setback is among many recently for Cisco, which has been losing ground in some of its core businesses over the past six months. Cisco shares are down 30% in the past five months and Netflix shares have surged 38% so far this year. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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