Time Warner has pulled 12 cable channels from the live streaming option on the company’s iPad app, bowing to pressure from cable networks upset that Time Warner wasn’t paying them for the service. The move drops the live TV streaming option from 32 channels to 20, and pulls popular channels like The Discovery Channel, Comedy Central, MTV, and Nat Geo.
In addition to the glint of direct revenue opportunities sparkling in the eyes of cable network execs, Dow Jones reported that the networks were also fearful of a hit to ad revenue as there are no established means of measuring viewership on an iPad. Time Warner had reported that its app was seeing high demand shortly after its release in early March.
Time Warner’s move was a pre-emptive one ahead of threatened lawsuits from Viacom, Discovery, Scripps and News Corp.’s Fox Cable Networks. Contention over the service erupted almost immediately after the app’s release, with networks saying Time Warner didn’t have the necessary rights to offer the service, while Time Warner said that existing agreements allowed the company to deliver content to any device in a customer’s home, and the app was limited to iPads connected to their home network.
In a statement, Time Warner continued to assert that right and insulted the recalcitrant networks even while giving up the battle on the 12 channels.
“We believe we have every right to carry the programming on our iPad app,” the company said. “But, for the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers—and their viewers—to watch their programming on any screen in their homes.”
The channels that have been pulled are: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike TV and VH1, which are all owned by Viacom. Fox Cable Network’s FX and Nat Geo were also pulled, as was Animal Planet, TLC, and Animal Planet, which are all owned by Discovery.
Fox News, which is owned directly by News Corp., and not Fox Cable Network, will remain available. Other channels being offered include: A&E, E!, HLN, ABC Family, Food Network, Lifetime Movie Network, AMC, MSNBC, Bravo, Galavision, SyFy, CNBC, Hallmark Channel, Travel Channel, CNN, HGTV, USA, Disney Channel, and History.
Time Warner set up a website this week in an attempt to rally customers for the service, and the company said there that it would be adding other, not-yet-announced channels to the app Soon™.
In the meanwhile, Time Warner Cable customers can get the free app on iTunes.
Time Warner iPad App Screen