Video Streaming Services for the iPad

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The iPad is getting some love with prominent mentions by leading media companies in their plans to expand delivery of video content.

Both HBO and Verizon FIOS discussed plans to bring streaming video apps to the iPad. The HBO Go program will provide on-demand access to HBO subscribers, while the Verizon plans are focused on streaming live TV over your FIOS connection to your home. The iPad is a great device for watching video, and these announcements also indicate the importance of the App Store in providing a simple method for content providers to reach customers on iOS devices.

HBO Go

Eric Kessler, co-president of HBO, recently revealed plans for HBO Go on the iPad. HBO Go will provide about 800 hours of programming to HBO subscribers at no additional cost. This content will be available through all major cable systems, online from Comcast’s Fancast and Verizon FIOS, and on Apple’s iPad and other devices. The iPad app will be a great way to catch up on episodes of HBO original programming, as well as dive into the catalog of hit movies available on the service.

Verizon Live TV

Our sister blog NewTeeVee covered a Verizon FIOS press briefing where CIO Shaygan Kheradpir demonstrated a new iPad app that provides live TV…at least while you’re at home and directly connected to your FIOS service. This streaming app is based on the idea that the iPad is just another screen that is displaying content coming down over the existing FIOS pipe. Verizon expects to have all its content partners on board for launch early next year. It is also working on a new VOD service that will eventually come to the iPad as well.

Dish Network

Announced a couple of weeks ago, Dish Network is bringing streaming video to the iPad sometime in September through its SlingBox technology. Dish has a new DVR with SlingBox built-in, and it will be releasing a free app for the iPad that will work with this DVR, much like the existing SlingPlayer Mobile app ($29.99) works with a stand-alone SlingBox. You can schedule the DVR to record your favorite programs and then access those saved recordings from anywhere with the iPad app, which also serves as a remote control for the set-top box.

The App Store is the Future of Video Services

In a post last week, I put forth my belief that the future of video is through apps rather than the iTunes store. For one thing, an app gives the content provider an opportunity to interact directly with the customer to both learn more about them and to pitch additional products. Apps also provide flexibility for all three services to leverage their existing technology to deliver their service. HBO Go is Internet-based VOD, the Verizon service is live streaming, and Dish relies on a media server (SlingBox) embedded in its DVR set-top box. These services (and the content licensing models behind them) wouldn’t work in the iTunes Store, which is based on purchasing video content. Renting is available for movies only.

The large number of iOS devices — not just iPads but iPhones, but the iPod touch as well — has caught the attention of content providers. The App Store, while carefully controlled by Apple, is open enough that these companies can bring their content to customers using different technologies and still comply with their existing licensing agreements. I expect many more services like these to pop up over the next year or two. It’s a big win for everyone, content providers, customers and, not least of all, Apple, which stands to sell millions more iPads and other iOS devices this year.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: The iPad: Cable TV For Publishers?

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