The appification of cable companies continues. This time around, it’s Time Warner Cable (s TWC) releasing a new iPad app (s aapl) that lets its customers stream live TV from anywhere in their homes. The TWCable TV for iPad app follows up on its promise to bring cable network programming to the iPad, while leapfrogging the competition to provide live streams.
While Comcast (s CMCSA) has also released an app for mobile viewing, the content available has been limited to on-demand streaming titles from its TV Everywhere partners. Both Comcast and Verizon (s VZ) have expressed an interest in streaming live TV in the app, but Time Warner Cable’s implementation is the first to make streaming of live channels actually happen. For now, the app only streams live channels, but in the future it could add access to on-demand video from TV Everywhere partners like HBO, (s TWX) as well as channel controls and DVR functionality.
But the ability to watch live TV is somewhat limited; unlike the hundreds of channels currently available to Time Warner Cable subscribers on the TV, there’s only about 30 channels streaming on the iPad app. The number is limited to only those with whom the cable provider has been able to strike deals over the past few years. App usage is also limited to those that are both Time Warner Cable TV and broadband Internet subscribers, and the live streams can only be accessed over Wi-Fi from inside a subscriber’s home, taking some of the device’s actual mobility out of the equation. So now subscribers will be able to stream channels in the two or three rooms in the house where they don’t currently have TVs, but that’s about it.
The iPad app is being released as Time Warner Cable and other pay TV providers seek to keep users from canceling their subscriptions, by providing more value to viewers and more ways to watch their content. In addition to building apps for mobile devices, Time Warner Cable is also working with Samsung and Sony (s SNE) to create apps on connected TVs that could provide a better user interface and take the place of digital set-top boxes.