Under pressure, Time Warner drops 11 channels from iPad TV app

Move still leaves 21 channels for cable subscribers to view on their tablets at home

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No one ever said this was going to be easy.

For the second time since launching two weeks ago on the App Store, Time Warner is scaling back the number of television channels it offers subscribers via an app for their Apple iPad tablets.

(Also see: Time Warner iPad TV app drawing users -- and litigation)

However, unlike when Time Warner temporarily reduced the number of iPad app channels because its servers couldn't handle the demand, this cutback was spurred by fears of legal reprisals from broadcast companies alleging copyright violations.

In a Thursday blog post titled, "Programmers Are Kicking The Currents of Change With Feeble Karate: We’re Removing Some Channels From Our iPad App," Time Warner Director of Digital Communication Jeff Simmermon, said:

Our iPad app is colossally popular with pretty much everyone except for the management and legal teams at Fox Cable, Viacom, and Discovery networks.

While we’ve received our share of customer complaints about the app on Twitter and in the App store, none of them have said, “We really wish this thing had fewer channels on it. It’s just not fair to the programmers.”

And yet that's what Time Warner has decided to do: Give customers fewer channels. Not to be fair to the programmers, mind you, but in response to legal threats the cable giant says aren't even valid. Some cable company we know could use an injection of Charlie Sheen's tiger blood.

Simmermon then quotes a Time Warner statement:

[F]or 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.

Because if anything will shame the broadcast channel legal commandos into backing off, it's snark delivered during a public retreat.

Time Warner closes by vowing it "will continue to fight to ensure that our customers have access to the content they pay for, no matter which screen in their home they choose to view it on."

Maybe it's me, but Time Warner dropping more than one-third of its iPad app channels following some predictable entertainment industry saber-rattling doesn't seem a whole lot like "fighting" for the rights of its subscribers. It seems much more like feeble karate.

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