Time Warner Cable is receiving cease-and-desist letters for allowing its customers to access television programming through their iPads, according to the online business, tech and finance site Business Insider.
The publication credits an anonymous industry source for the information.
Time Warner Cable’s free iPad app, which allows its existing customers to access some of their channels through the iPad within the confines of their homes, launched last Tuesday with 32 channels.
The app was so popular that it became the most downloaded program on iTunes on its launch day, March 15. But the popularity also caused the system to crash, which reduced the channel line-up to 15.
That’s the reason Time Warner gave for removing some of the channels. The company says that it plans to restore the missing channels and add more as quickly as possible.
At least one content owner has objected to Time Warner’s move.
Scripps Networks Interactive released a statement last week that said that it “has not granted iPad video streaming rights to any distributor and is actively addressing any misunderstandings on this issue.”
Trade industry publication Ad Age quotes a Time Warner Cable spokesman saying that the company believes it has the rights to move forward with the application.
Channel line-ups are negotiated between networks, content owners and cable companies, so it appears to be a disagreement between the two sides as to what existing contracts allow.
As CNET notes, Comcast offers its customers the free Xfinity TV iPad app, and other companies offer similar programs.
And Sling Media offers an app that allows access to programming from anywhere on iPads.
Perhaps the problem is that the programmers have their own iPad plans, and “surprises” from their cable partners might impact their own offerings on tablets.
Scripps, for example, already offers “Home and Garden TV to Go” as a downloadable app on iTunes.
It’s the kind of media industry rights dispute worth keeping tabs on since the lines that distinguish “streaming” on computers versus access through television seem destined to become ever fuzzier as cloud computing grows in popularity.