So a cable company like Time Warner pays the owners of channels a huge amount of money for the right to deliver those channels to customers' homes. But lately Time Warner has been delivering those same shows to iPads, arguing that they have the right to do so. Companies like Viacom, who own the channels in question, see this as essentially theft and they're furious with Time Warner, which began a PR campaign yesterday touting the benefit of "more freedom to watch on more screens" and wondering, "Why do some TV networks want to take it away?"
To stream programs from Time Warner Cable, customers download an iPad app through the Apple iTunes store, log in to verify their account, and choose from a selection of live channels like CNN and Comedy Central. The iPad app only works inside the home, and only for customers who receive both television and Internet from the operator.
Other cable television operators say they are coming out with their own streaming apps soon. Cablevision's app could come out this week.
But some channel owners say that companies like Time Warner Cable should be consulting with them more closely before introducing new products. "Portability is a different business proposition," said an executive at one of the major channel owners, suggesting that there should be a premium paid for the ability to take a TV show into bed or into the bathtub. One commercial for Time Warner Cable's app actually shows a person watching TV on a tablet while taking a bath.