Viacom to cable companies: Your iPad apps give customers too much

“Viacom has notified Cablevision Systems that the cable operator’s iPad app, which delivers live TV and video-on-demand inside subscribers homes, is not authorized,” Todd Spangler repots for Multichannel News. “On Thursday, Time Warner Cable filed a lawsuit against Viacom in federal court seeking a ruling that its own iPad app featuring live TV streaming is covered under existing distribution agreements, while Viacom responded with its own suit accusing the MSO of breach of contract and copyright violations.”

In a statement Friday, Viacom said, “Cablevision has seized distribution rights that Viacom has not granted. Viacom grants rights to distribute our content based on specific technologies and devices. We have extensive relationships with dozens of distribution companies who deal with us fairly and deliver outstanding consumer experiences on a variety of platforms. These relationships are based on fair licensing agreements that provide appropriate value for everyone involved. We will take the steps necessary to ensure that Cablevision respects our rights.”

The cable operator said in a statement, “Cablevision’s agreements with programmers allow us to deliver cable television service to our customers, regardless of how many or what kinds of televisions they have in the home. Programmers are paid based on how many homes we securely connect to their content, not how many televisions display it, so they have never questioned whether a customer has a single TV or a dozen 50-inch flat panels in the home — it’s all cable television. Optimum App for iPad simply turns the iPad into another television in the home, and one it is worth noting our customers are finding particularly enjoyable and easy to use.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Content producers should get to work then on producing their own apps, as ESPN has done already for their channels (albeit as a pixel-doubled iPhone app for iPad). We’ll make a folder of them on our iOS devices and it’ll look and act just like the channel lineup in the cable companies’ iPad apps. Sure, it’s not optimal to have channels groups strewn among several apps, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Until then, the content producers are the villains here. If you want us to watch your content, under your control, on our iPads: Stop suing and start coding! It’s not only less expensive, but it’ll be much more effective, too. (ESPN: Great job, we love your WatchESPN app. iPad-native app soon, please!)

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Sarah” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s revolutionary iPad’s killer app: Live TV – April 9, 2011
Time Warner asks U.S. District Court to decide on iPad streaming – April 7, 2011
Free WatchESPN app streams live ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch – April 7, 2011
Time Warner Cable adds 20 new channels TWCable TV for iPad app – April 1, 2011
Time Warner pulls several channels from TWCable TV iPad app – March 31, 2011
News Corp.’s Fox TV delivers cease and desist letter to Time Warner Cable over iPad app – March 31, 2011
Time Warner cuts back live TV iPad app due to overwhelming demand (updated) – March 16, 2011
Time Warner Cable first to launch iPad app that delivers live TV (Updated) – March 14, 2011

28 Comments

  1. Knew the lawsuits would start soon.

    In the end, how much you want to bet viacom, etc. Will put out their own apps, and charge a fee to subscribe to it.
    Which will probably be cheaper than going through a cable company…

  2. I thought that they wanted us to watch their drivel!

    In the future, media distribution agreements will explicitly address streaming to mobile platforms. I don’t see this ending up being favorable to consumers. It will end up being a lot like the cell phone carriers – how many times do you want to pay for the same bandwidth/content because you access it in different ways??

    1. Are you people really THAT clueless? Does the world have to speak to you as a kindergartener? Ok then.

      Big bad Apple monster comes along and makes this scaaaary tablet called iPad. Dum dum cable companies think this new tablet is a tv just like the old tv and they take it into their house. They even put their worthless shows on it that they got from Hollywood and they think they’re happy. They give it to all their friends and everyone drools like that pink guy from Spongebob.

      But then the scaaaaary iPad tells Hollywood what Dum dum did. So Hollywood invites in the worst monsters of them all, the LAWYERS!!!!! These lawyer monsters don’t really know what this iPad is, all they know is that it’s not in their magic book called “contract”. So now the battle begins. Just like many battles before, it’s Dum dums fighting monsters because something new came along and it wasn’t in the magic contract.

  3. Corporate greed gone Rong.

    Imagine if these shows went mobile and were free with limited advertising. The advertising dollars would flow like crazy. Win-win situation. Viacom is stupid, in my opinion.

    1. Are you people really THAT clueless? Does the world have to speak to you as a kindergartener? Ok then…

      Big bad Apple monster comes along and makes this scaaaary tablet called iPad. Dum dum cable companies think this new tablet is a tv just like the old tv and they take it into their house. They even put their worthless shows on it that they got from Hollywood and they think they’re happy. They give it to all their friends and everyone drools like that pink guy from Spongebob.

      But then the scaaaaary iPad tells Hollywood what Dum dum did. So Hollywood invites in the worst monsters of them all, the LAWYERS!!!!! These lawyer monsters don’t really know what this iPad is, all they know is that it’s not in their magic book called “contract”. So now the battle begins. Just like many battles before, it’s Dum dums fighting monsters because something new came along and it wasn’t in the magic contract.

      1. Right. So if cable companies will go after each other in court over things like this, that means it’s totally unlikely they’ll ever try to retaliate and throttle your bandwidth. Makes perfect sense.

        1. You’re not making any sense. Why would Cablevision throttle their customer’s bandwidth to get back at Viacom?

          Net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem.

    2. I don’t think we need NN laws.
      On paper, I like 1-2 things NN laws “fix” in reality they would ruin much more than they would try and “fix”.

  4. Let us think about the scenario that could occur here realizing that the most disruptive company (I am talking about positive disruptions) in the world has been Apple. What if the next target to disrupt was the totally screwed up distribution system for content? I am not sure what it might be, but think about it. An internet provider not beholding to anyone but the users. Pure, unadulterated interest in providing internet only. No content. Like the electric power companies, who provide only electricity. Let the user decide what specific content they want and let the user deal with the content provider directly.

  5. If I were Apple, I’d release feature to Apple TV for TV to iPad streaming and circumvent all of this nonsense.

    PS – DrDudeTX – I hope you feel better soon.

  6. By “too much” Viacom apparently means the TV that you’re already paying for….

    Bunch of idiots… Thsee content providers are headed off a cliff… A big one.

  7. You can only stream through wifi in your own house, you must be a subscriber to the cable service.
    I don’t see what the problem is.
    I kinda sorta could see if this worked over 3G and the content producer had a moneymaking mobil strategy in place to conflict with, but they don’t.

  8. Here is Viacom’s real concern:
    “We have extensive relationships with dozens of distribution companies who deal with us fairly and deliver outstanding consumer experiences on a variety of platforms”
    Viacom has been banning apple products from their contents, it has asked to series producer to use “partners” products on their films like ATC or Motorola products.
    Apple does not pays for thir products to shown on a program but since it is the most useful device, it makes it into a lot o movies and tv series, have any of you see the “pear phone? or pear mac?, Or any body noticed that Sheldon’s Dell XPS computer (the big Bang theory) was replaced by a MacBook pro and they just covered the back of the Mac?

    1. Well, not quite. Product placement deals are rarely banned or rejected by producers or networks (only for controversial products). In general, advertisers approach producers and/or networks for product placement, and these in turn get them written into a show (if scripted narrative drama/sitcoms).

      When it comes to Apple products, though, more often than not, a production designer will simply ask for the protagonist on a show to use an iPod, iPhone, MBA/MB/MBP/iMac, for the only reasons that these devices look significantly better onscreen than others. In such cases, the producer might attempt to milk some money from Apple for product placement, or at least receive clearance from Apple Legal to show the product/logo in the programme. If Apple does not want to pay (or even give clearance), they will obscure or “photoshop” (actually, AfterEffects, or Motion) out the logo. For the most part, that MBP will stay in the show, and be easily identifiable by most people.

      So, no, networks/producers will very rarely reject product placement. When you see a protagonist (or antagonist, for that matter) use a Motorola phone, that is only because Motorola paid for it, and not because Viacom, Universal or whoever doesn’t want to use Apple and prefers competitors.

  9. You’d think the networks would be more supportive of TWC, Comcast, et al. When watching live TV on your iPad, it’s not exactly like you can skip through the commercials (and commercials bring in advertising revenue, don’t they?). Whether you’re watching live TV or recorded material via a DVR control function, especially if you’re locked into the home/local network, how is watching on an iPad different from watching on your TV? This all seems either greedy or shortsighted on the part of the Viacoms of the world.

  10. It’s time for Apple to acquire some WiMax frequencies and bypass these dinosaurs while providing complete ISP and programming services through me.com. Fsck Viacom. I’ve been cable and satellite free for a year now, and loving it.

  11. Has anyone noticed MDN’s take concerning how ESPN did a great job with their app? You still need a cable subscription and not all cable companies are covered. How is this a great job? How is this better than Cablevision’s app which let’s me stream all my content to my iPad? Since this is based on you cable provider it’s useless to me, Comcast subscribers, et. al. If I had no cable provider, which MDN and many here espouses, then I wouldn’t even have access to this “great” app.

    For now I much rather prefer Cablevisions solution and agree with MDN that the content producers are the villians here. TV’s are becoming smarter with every generation. We now have Internet connected TV’s, TV’s that can access marketplaces and download apps. The traditional TV is disappearing and it sounds like they are trying to become more like the iPad (minus the magic and portability.) If that is so then why penalize us for watching TV on our iPads. Confining access to your TV content to your household should solve any issues content producers would have, but they are just looking for a bigger money grab. This is ridiculous and short sighted since all this does is put more eyeballs on their content and more importantly commercials.

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