A New Generation of TV? Live Streaming on the iPad

By Alan Hammond

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Movies and shows on the Netflix app is great. I suppose paying for TV shows via Hulu is good, too. But, cable companies offering live streaming of their programming through iPad apps is positively superb. It’s still in the early-going, but television viewing could be changing as radically as the recording industry.

As best I can tell, it’s also at no extra cost.

Three Cheers for Cable!

Optimum, Cablevision's iPad app

A couple of days ago, the Optimum for iPad app offered by cable television company, Cablevision, went live, literally. The app was released to the app store and Cablevision subscribers could then begin watching live TV on their iPads. This release followed similar offerings by competitors, Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
With such capabilities, millions of cable viewers have one less tether to traditional program-viewing.  For some time, people have been able to view their home television stations while on vacation or otherwise away from home with products such as a Slingbox, but that required a phone or tablet, box attached to your cable box or television, and potentially other accessories to make it work correctly. It was a great piece of tech, and still is, but with the addition of iPad apps, the process has become streamlined with fewer working parts.

The catch with the Cablevision app, and presumably with the other company apps, is that subscribers must agree that they won’t view programming on their devices outside the immediate environment of their homes. The requirement is obviously due to copyright compliance. It is a limiting factor and prevents the full extension of mobile, live TV viewing, but, as I said, it’s the early going. Things change, usually for the better.

High Marks and Lots of Them

The Optimum app, though it has only been live for a short period, as of today has 256 ratings in the Apple App Store, 176 of them awarding it the coveted 5-star rating. That’s great, rah rah, but the most telling thing is the participation, which, in my estimation, reveals there’s a great deal of interest in this mode of viewing.

The current version of the Time Warner Cable app, which accomplishes the same as Optimum, was released on March 28, a few days earlier.  It has 332 ratings, though not as many top honors from users. The results are nearly the same with the Comcast app.

If the results hold steady, other cable companies will join the gang. And, in time, maybe we can enjoy unrestricted television enjoyment wherever we may be. Just like we were at home.

I just hope DirecTV jumps on the bandwagon, somehow, because I’m out of the loop with these new cable apps.

Source: Adweek.com, “Programmers Silent as Cablevision Launches iPad App,” Anthony Crupi, April 4, 2010.

About Alan Hammond
Alan is a freelancer writer and small business consultant. His writing has magically appeared in many places, but principally within the golfing realm. He's also a believer in the potential and future of the iPad. You can find him easily, but give twitter a try first, @AlanLHammond.

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