Just two weeks on the App Store and Time Warner Cable is once again scaling back the number of channels available on its live TV application for the iPad. But unlike the last time this happened, this crop could be gone for good.
Bowing to legal pressure from News Corp, Viacom, and Discovery, Time Warner Cable has removed 11 channels from the application, cutting away at the 32 it had offered before. Though a scant number when compared with home cable packages, which can number in the hundreds, the app represented the step toward taking that same lineup on the go.
The channels being cut this time around are: Animal Planet, Black Entertainment Television, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, FX, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Spike, and VH1.
In a statement, the company said it would fight the move:
We believe we have every right to carry the Fox Cable Networks, Viacom, and Discovery programming on the iPad app. 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.
In the meantime, we will pursue all of our legal rights against the programmers who don't share our vision. The enthusiasm of our customers and the programming partners who have embraced the app, rather than those who are solely focused on finding additional ways to reach into wallets of their own viewers, has convinced us more than ever that we are on the right path.
We 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.
Part of that fight is bringing additional channels to the application in the near future. "We will be providing replacement channels as quickly as we can, perhaps as early as tomorrow," the company said on its dedicated application site. "You won't need to change anything or update your app in any way to receive these or the additional channels."
Reports that Time Warner Cable was being pursued with legal action by networks cropped up last week, with offense being taken that the communications company was overreaching by distributing content through something other than its set-top boxes.
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"Our iPad app is colossally popular with pretty much everyone except for the management and legal teams at Fox Cable, Viacom, and Discovery networks," Jeff Simmermon, Time Warner Cable's director of communications, said in a post on the company's blog earlier today.
Despite the service only working for customers of Time Warner Cable TV and Internet services, as well as requiring Wi-Fi , Simmermon said more than 300,000 users have downloaded the application. In fact the initial influx of users was too much for the company to handle, forcing it to cut 17 of its channels temporarily to cope with demand.
"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,'" Simmermon said.