Blog Post

Cable Company iPad Apps Are Killing It

Today’s Time Warner Cable (s twc) earnings call revealed that its iPad (s aapl) app was downloaded 360,000 times during its first month of availability. Cablevision (s cvc) revealed that it saw 50,000 downloads in the first five days of app availability, and when contacted by GigaOM, Comcast (s cmcsa) shared that its Xfinity TV app has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times since its launch in November.

What’s the message? Cable subscribers are highly amenable to the idea of accessing content on their iPads. Even Cablevision’s 50,000 downloads only represents the first five days, and it has a much smaller total of 3 million subscribers, versus 12 million for Time Warner Cable. Comcast had 22.8 million subscribers at last count, so it makes sense that it has the largest pool of potential users to draw from.

It’s also worth noting that Time Warner Cable lost only 65,000 subscribers this past quarter (and even gained subscribers in March, according to the Time Warner Cable CFO Robert Marcus), while it lost 155,000 during the quarter before that, and 141,000 two quarters ago. It’s probably too early to infer that the iPad app is the reason behind the decrease in subscriber bleed. But it’s worth considering that the iPad is a significant variable that’s been introduced only recently, and if these download numbers are any indication, it definitely seems to be a hit among cable subscribers.

Maybe cable companies can use these numbers to convince content providers to go easier when it comes to license requirements. Time Warner Cable is putting more time and money behind the app, too. There are now 70 channels available, whereas the product launched with 30. The company also said it plans on updating the app with ongoing improvements, including two-way communication with smart TV devices, and the ability to act as a remote and program DVRs from a distance.

10 Responses to “Cable Company iPad Apps Are Killing It”

  1. Scrippslarry

    Sling video is a very convenient way to stream all content from your cable box, satellite or even DVD. HBO GO I also nice. is okay, and there are a host of other ways to watch individual channels on the net.

  2. Richard

    Time Warner Cable is smart. One of the few companies out there that is actually doing something awesome for it’s customers. Bravo Time Warner Cable.

  3. I love Comcast’s Xfinity app and use it all the time, but I have never used it to watch any program. It’s the best remote ever, with great search features, and the ability to change channels and schedule recordings on multiple boxes.

  4. Seems to me that this is more of a testament to how much people hate cable boxes. Let’s standardize this under the FCC’s AllVid proposal. Then it can get built into TVs and the hated cable box can die.

  5. ravedog

    First off: punctuation – there should be a colon after “Cable Company:” in the title… because the rest of the sentence is what they are saying.

    Secondly, the title is totally misleading. How are iPad apps killing Cable by using the apps the cable companies provide? You cannot use any of the apps outside the home and you NEED the subscription to cable to make them work. How is their “losing customers” have ANYTHING to do with the iPad?

    One statistic has nothing to do with the other.

    • Darrell said that apps are “killing it,” i.e. doing wonders for the cable companies. He did not say that iPad is killing the cable companies. Big difference.

      The whole point of the article is that cable companies have realized how they can use iPad as a weapon to keep consumers from cutting the cord. The numbers bear this out, and why they are throwing even more resources into their iPad apps, which have become competitive advantage against Internet video.

      • ravedog

        I stand corrected. But the article jumps all around quite a bit. And the worst part is where is the data correlating app usage and cutting the cord. The iPad does not offer a suitable replacement for viewing TV. If you like certain TV shows, you can’t just watch them on the iPad instead unless you buy them off iTunes. Are they saying that iPad usage in general is now replacing cable itself? I use my iPad a lot, but I haven’t cancelled my subscription to DirecTV. It’s lazy reporting… there is no data to back up assumptions.

    • Ravedog,

      With a “hip” and “with it” handle like “Ravedog”, I should think you get the modern colloquialism of “killing it”, which now means “doing extremely well”.

      This article is actually well written, and cohesive, so long as you understand the title, and the iPad apps in question.

      When you ask (in subsequent comments), “If you like certain TV shows, you can’t just watch them on the iPad instead unless you buy them off iTunes.” –Actually, yes, you CAN just watch them on the iPad. That’s the point of the article. Existing cable subscribers can download an iPad app that allows them to view a portion of their subscribed cable channels in linear TV fashion on their iPad.

      Some cable apps also offer programming grid information, and can even act as a remote for the TV and set-top box.

      You write, “The iPad does not offer a suitable replacement for viewing TV…Are they saying that iPad usage in general is now replacing cable itself?” The iPad is not a complete replacement for watching TV, and the cable companies are counting on that. However, they are afraid of losing subscribers to devices like the iPad, thus, they offer their iPad content ONLY to cable subscribers. They are sweetening their offer, and making sure they are available on all the platforms that people watch TV…while still requiring a cable subscription. For example, someone like you, on DirectTV, might now prefer a cable subscription, because it offers the iPad option as well. Will this save the cable industry from OTT content and Neflix? Who knows? But it’s a decent strategy.

      To use your words: Your comments are lazy commenting, and there is no reading comprehension to back up your accusations of bad reporting.