Good news for online video fans: The first generation of video apps for the iPad have been revealed, and among them are offerings from content distributors Netflix and ABC. The rollout of Netflix’s Watch Instantly service on the soon-to-launched mobile device, as well as a wide selection of content expected from ABC’s broadcast TV lineup, will go a long way toward legitimizing it as a video-viewing machine.
The first evidence of a Netflix app appeared on App Advice, which also has an app store walkthrough highlighting more than 700 apps that will be available at launch. The app appears to extend all the same capabilities of the Netflix web site onto the iPad, including the ability to manage your queue, peruse available titles and rate them, and even to watch videos available through the subscription rental company’s Watch Instantly online streaming service.
We speculated that a Netflix app would be a perfect fit for the iPad when the device was first announced in January. But Netflix is increasingly focused on making its streaming service available on other mobile devices, as well. The release of an iPad app follows the demo of a Netflix streaming app on Windows Phone 7 at Microsoft’s MIX10 developers conference last month. Netflix also recently surveyed users as to whether or not they’d be interested in a free iPhone app that would allow them to stream videos to the mobile device.
ABC, meanwhile, will have its own application for the iPad, which will feature a large number of the broadcaster’s programs, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to that story, the ABC app will have much of the same content that is available on ABC.com. The app will be free to download, but videos will be ad-supported.
Interestingly, the launch of the ABC iPhone app comes just as Apple is reportedly pushing content partners to lower the price of TV episodes in iTunes to 99 cents from $1.99 for standard-def versions, which it argues would make them more attractive to consumers, especially on the iPad. But programmers have been reluctant to do so, choosing instead to roll out and monetize videos on their own through apps. ABC was long thought of as the most likely candidate to test out lower pricing, due to its close ties with Apple and the fact that Steve Jobs is the largest individual shareholder in the media conglomerate — but it, too, appears to be holding out, at least for now.
While Netflix and ABC will be rolling out apps to make their video content available on the iPhone, CBS will be taking a different approach. According to the Journal, CBS will be rolling out videos that will be viewable through the iPad’s Safari browser, confirming earlier reports that the broadcaster was testing out an HTML5 implementation of its web site specifically for displaying videos on the iPad. CBS will reportedly have full episodes of reality TV show Survivor available on an optimized version of the CBS.com web site, as well as promotional clips for other shows, like The Mentalist and How I Met Your Mother.
News of plans by Netflix, ABC and CBS to reach the iPad follow a report in the NY Times that Hulu is working on an iPad app expected to be released later this year and may test a long-expected subscription service for Hulu’s content.
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