The cable companies & broadcasters are doing everything they can to resist change and save the existing business model. Even as consumers clamor for a la carte options and more online capabilities, the cable companies keep distorting that vision. The latest move comes from Time Warner cable, who has just released a special iPad app that will allow subscribers to watch live TV on the device.

The Time Warner iPad App

The app currently only has about 32 channels that are accessible, but Time Warner says they'll be rolling out more in the near future. Of course, the app only works on the iPad (and, presumably, the iPad 2), and only works for people who already subscribe to Time Warner cable TV service AND Internet service.

Time Warner Cables New iPad App Sounds Incredibly Dumb timewarnerapp

In addition, the app can only be used at home, which sort of takes the zing out of the announcement. Future update plans include the ability for users to use the app on the go via WiFi (but not, apparently, the 3G connection), but there's no timetable for that.

Cable Companies Can't Let Go

Instead of giving consumers what they want, the cable companies keep trying to trick us. Comcast gave us Xfinity, and all the cable companies have followed suit with some measure of online-viewing for customers--but only for customers who already subscribe to a cable television service.

Most consumers I know are trying to access content online because of the freedom it provides in time and space. But if the Time Warner app is only accessible from my home, and only when I'm already subscribing to TWO services... then it's not really saving me any time or money, is it? It's basically just turning my iPad into a 7-inch television screen I can only use in my own house. Wonderful.

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Consumers want a la carte. They want on-demand. And they want to pay for the content they view, not for access to channels they never use. Oh, and in a crummy economy, they want to pay less overall too.

For years cable companies have been bundling channels, making a killing by selling us content we never use. And the first forays into online content by cable giants signal no desire at all to actually give the consumers what they want. Instead, it's more of the same. You still have to subscribe to a traditional bundle, throwing away dollars on channels you never use... AND, what content they give you online has some significant limitations.

So you're paying the same amount as before, to get limited access to channels you already have access to on a TV... but only 32 of them.

While I applaud Time Warner for putting out an app, and for giving users a live-TV option on the iPad, the current offering is far too limited for many consumers to find it useful. It sounds kind of dumb, actually.

  • Kj Thornton

    Agreed. I was excited to download the app, and was excited about the possibilities...until I left my home, and tried to use the app on another wifi spot. Tisk tisk tisk. Almost complete uselessness (the dvr management is still cool). Who would choose their iPad over (in my case) their big screen right in front of them?

  • Brooklyn Bridges

    I’ve seen the TWC app in action and it’s definitely nice to have around the house. I love the clean interface and it’s definitely user friendly, but it doesn’t have live streaming. I actually have the DISH Remote Access app with DISH Network and it works with my Sling Adapter so I can watch live and pre-recorded content and I don’t have to be at home for it to work. The app not only allows me to watch my content on my iPad but my phone as well. I’ve have DISH Network for quite some time now and I don’t plan on leaving the company, but since I’ll be moving soon, I decided to keep my options open and check out some other companies. I came across this site and it outlined the major TV companies and by far, DISH Network is who I believe is going to give me the best value and save me the most amount of money!


    "While I applaud Time Warner for putting out an app, and for giving users a live-TV option on the iPad, the current offering is far too limited for many consumers to find it useful."
    I agree wit you. If it is turning your iPad into just another TV, than why can't you watch all your programs. I am glad that I have and also work at DISH Network. With my Sling Adapter hooked up to my VIP 722k and the DISH Remote access app on my phone, I can stream live content anywhere I have 3g or wifi signal. I can even access DVR recordings and delete the ones that I don't need anymore. I would suggest this to anyone looking for a true TV Everywhere solution.

  • Titletown Matt

    The cable/satellite companies have nothing to do with preventing a la carte programming. The networks/content providers are behind that.

    I always laugh when I see people say that the cable/satellite companies have all the power. The power lies with the content providers (i.e. the networks). They decide how much to charge Time Warner Cable or DirectTV to rebroadcast their content and also what other channels Time Warner Cable and DirectTV have to purchase and offer to get the channels those two companies (and their customers) really want.

    • JeremyScott

      The content providers are selling a la carte on iTunes. So clearly they don't have a problem with it in principle. You're right that cable companies alone aren't making the decision, but it's not as though they're dying to bring a la carte to customers if only the pesky production companies would relent.

      • Titletown Matt

        They're selling individual, specific shows/programs a la carte. That's apples to oranges.

        The content providers know that if they agree to a la carte programming, a large number of their channels will cease to exist because no one will want them. That's lost revenue and they would never stand for it.

        The cable/satellite companies are at the mercy of the content providers.

        • JeremyScott

          Fair enough. I was meaning a la carte in reference to episodes/shows, and you were meaning it in reference to cable channels. And the two are different...

          You're not wrong that content creators have the most power in that relationship, but I don't think that means cable companies are in favor of a la carte... it breaks their business model as much as it does the production companies'.