Time Warner Cable is jumping on the iPad bandwagon, joining a growing list of cable, IPTV and satellite TV providers that are building applications for the device that are designed to increase engagement and customer loyalty among subscribers. The upcoming app (first spotted by analyst Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research) which Time Warner Cable showed off in a series of YouTube videos, will allow its subscribers to navigate through their available content with an interactive programming guide, along with remote control and DVR scheduling capabilities.
However, the real killer application in Time Warner’s plans is the ability to tie its TV Everywhere streaming content into the device, enabling subscribers to view on-demand content from channels that they’ve subscribed to wherever they happen to be. There’s also the possibility of time- and place-shifting, in which subscribers would be able to record a show on their DVR and watch part of it on the iPad, then be able to pick up and watch the rest of the program later on their home TV.
The iPad app could give subscribers a greater ability to find the content they want to watch online with improved search functionality. As Time Warner Cable has grown its number of channels, as well as the amount of linear and on-demand programming, the ability to find what you want to watch becomes increasingly difficult. The app will seek to rectify that with more intuitive search capabilities that bring in metadata and allow users to browse available programming options by categories. It could also open the door for more social and personalized features, allowing subscribers to create personalized lists of content or get recommendations based on their personal interests or viewing habits.
The iPad app was developed in-house and takes advantage of web services APIs that were built around it. While those APIs are being used internally now, Time Warner Cable VP of Web Services Jason Gaedtke didn’t rule out the possibility of opening them up to partners to allow third-party developers to create their own applications for other consumer electronics devices. Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie said the company is already looking to extend capabilities out to other CE devices, including Internet-connected TVs, other mobile devices and gaming consoles. Since the web services APIs were built out for the iPad app, LaJoie said it would be a short haul to make the same functionality work on those other devices.
When speaking about Time Warner Cable’s long-term strategy in the videos, CEO Glenn Britt said it’s clear there are a lot of different devices through which consumers would like to get content, including the TV, iPad, mobile phones and others. He also pointed to the desire on the part of consumers to watch whenever and wherever they want.
“There’s already a lot of different devices so they’d like the same experience across the different devices,” Britt said. “They’d like to be able to do these things at the time of their choosing, so traditional TV has these linear networks… but clearly people would like to have a choice of when they do these things… And finally, people would like to choose the location where they do these things. And that’s the functionality that we want to create.”
As a result, Time Warner Cable expects different interfaces across a number of different devices, some of which are built by the cable company itself, and some of which are designed by third parties. “We need to open this up to the most creativity we can get,” Britt said.
Time Warner Cable isn’t alone in building out apps for the iPad and other mobile devices. Comcast showed off its upcoming iPad app for remote control earlier this year at the Cable Show. Cablevision and Dish Network are also looking to the iPad to make video streaming and place-shifting capabilities available to their customers. And earlier this week, AT&T announced plans to make streaming of certain shows available to consumers on their iPhone and upcoming Blackberry Torch phones.
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