After several days of grumbling, it looks like the knives are coming out. Fox confirms that it sent a letter Tuesday demanding that Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) stop streaming its National Geographic and FX channels to iPads. This scuffle with TWC could turn into the first battle over whether iPads are covered by existing payment and licensing schemes, or whether content owners can insist on new iPad video streaming rights.
TWC is the first cable company to create an app that allows subscribers to watch on their iPad, but Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) has said it will have one coming out shortly as well. Comcast has promised live streaming but hasn’t yet acted on it.
Currently, TWC is streaming 32 channels on its app, including Animal Planet, Bravo, and CNBC (NSDQ: CMCSA). The company built in one big restriction that it hopes will help it prevail in any upcoming battles over copyright royalties: TWC customers can only use the app in the confines of their home. The company hopes that will make it appear to be more like an additional television in the home.
It’s already clear that TWC isn’t going to let this fight end quietly. The company already has built a website, iwantmytwcabletvapp.com, where it’s making its case directly to consumers. “We’re standing up for you,” TWC writes on the site. “You’ve already paid for these TV programs to be delivered to your home, and we believe you should be able to watch these programs anywhere in your house, on any screen you want.”
The record is mixed on whether content owners are been able to extract additional royalties when they get distributed on new platforms. When radio stations started streaming over the internet, content owners were able to negotiate a new source of revenue; but when the VCR became popular in the early 1980s, the entertainment industry mounted a legal challenge but lost in the famous Betamax case.
See where *Time Warner* ranks on our latest list, The paidContent 50: The Most Successful Digital Media Companies In The U.S.