March 31, 2011

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Programmers Are Kicking The Currents of Change With Feeble Karate: We’re Removing Some Channels From Our iPad App

Our iPad app is colossally popular with pretty much everyone except for the management and legal teams at Fox Cable, Viacom, and Discovery networks. Over 300,000 people have downloaded the app to date and watched selected live cable TV channels in their homes using a Wi-Fi connection with no new wires, no new TVs, and no new set-top boxes.

While we’ve received our share of customer complaints about the app on Twitter and in the App store, none of them have said “We really wish this thing had fewer channels on it. It’s just not fair to the programmers.”

And as you may have heard, the aforementioned programmers would like for us to pull the feeds for channels that they own from our iPad app. They are willing to threaten to sue over it, too. They also don’t want us to talk about this publicly for fear of bad PR — as though our customers are incapable of Googling a few news stories and cross-referencing them against a thinning channel lineup.

So for the time being, we’re going to have to pull some channels. Please see the following formal statement:

We believe we have every right to carry the Fox Cable Networks, Viacom and Discovery programming on the iPad app. But, for the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers – and their viewers – to watch their programming on any screen in their homes.

In the meantime, we will pursue all of our legal rights against the programmers who don’t share our vision. The enthusiasm of our customers and the programming partners who have embraced the app, rather than those who are solely focused on finding additional ways to reach into wallets of their own viewers, has convinced us more than ever that we are on the right path.

We will continue to fight to ensure that our customers have access to the content they pay for, no matter which screen in their home they choose to view it on.

Specifically, the following channels are being removed:

  • Animal Planet
  • BET
  • CMT
  • Comedy Central
  • Discovery Channel
  • FX
  • MTV
  • National Geographic
  • Nickelodeon
  • Spike
  • VH1

Like I said, television is melting right now. The whole TV industry is sitting on a river that’s flowing fast into the future. Some programmers are kicking the currents with feeble karate and some are getting in a boat and pulling oars along with us for the good of our customers — the people who already paid for all of this and want it really, really badly.


  1. Christian Grieco's reply

    Television programmers who dont get that technology moves forward and digital delivery of content using the Internet is where the future is – will learn the hard way – just like the music industry did. Time Warner Cable took a baby step with their new iPad app. Keeping pushing the envelope TWC!

  2. Jon Brennan's reply

    Dear Programmers. I have already paid for your content. I cannot use your content any more than i already could have before. By your logic, should you not sue every electronics retailer? After all, they sell televisions which are capable of watching your content within my home. They even sell portable televisions that I can carry about.

    Stop trying to gouge us. Stop trying impede progress. Stop trying to go back into my wallet to make me pay for something I have already paid for. Seriously. Stop.

    Your long-time customer

  3. Graeme's reply

    What a bunch of morons. I only watch DVRed programs on my main TV so as to avoid commercials. On the App you have no choice but to watch them. TV programmers – which is best for you?

  4. Mary Morawski's reply

    That’s just stupid on their part. If you pay for TWC in your home you should be able to watch it on whatever device you have. I don’t own an iPad yet but that that was a great app.

  5. Cory's reply

    I’m curious why they haven’t gone after Slingbox.

    I could connect to it remotely from anywhere outside my house and watch basically ALL the channels I’m subscribed to… unlike the iPad, which is limited to a fraction of the amount of channels and is only usable in the house.

  6. Sam Kimpton's reply

    “I’m curious why they haven’t gone after Slingbox.”

    Because Slingbox doesn’t have any contracts with the networks, and they don’t sell the channel content to the users. All they’re doing is sending a video stream out to another source.

  7. Tom's reply

    I made sure a few of the Facebook pages of some of the channels removed got the word from me that I want the channels back on the iPad.

  8. Karen Faestel's reply

    I don’t own an iPad. I don’t think I’m asking too much to be reimbursed for the “deleted” channels I’ve already paid TWC for.

    Annoyed Subscriber

  9. Tom Burka's reply

    @Jon Brennan — beautifully said! I already paid for the content — I’m just using my ipad as a spare set and the cable that runs to it is invisible.

    As Jon said, “I cannot use your content any more than i already could have before.” All it does is maximize the number of household viewers in a home that your commercials can reach, after I;ve paid you to watch it. You should be cheering.

    Take a lesson from CBS. I have their NCAA March Madness app on my iphone and ipad, and it allows me to watch live NCAA basketball for free anywhere I am — even outside the home. Free app. What does CBS get out of it? $$$$.

    Thank you Time Warner for your innovation and smart thinking. The programmers should thank you too.

  10. Andrew's reply

    Thanks, TWC, for your forward-thinking development of this app. I have paid for these channels and should be able to view them. Could you give us contact information for these companies? I will then call them and request to know their agents for service of process in order to initiate legal action.

  11. Derek Wilde's reply

    “Because Slingbox doesn’t have any contracts with the networks, and they don’t sell the channel content to the users. All they’re doing is sending a video stream out to another source”

    — Sam Kimpton, This (above quote) is 100% false, Dishnetwork owns slingbox now, Dishnetwork is a satellite provider, similar to TW cable.

  12. Wouter's reply

    When the big providers finally wake up to this new form of delivery they would have missed the boat. That’s how iTunes managed to become the #1 music seller. Bless them!

  13. Diane's reply

    Since I already pay for this service why should I not be able to access it on my ipad since I can only use it in my home anyway? Seems really ludicrus that these station would pull something that brings them in profits when we watch them. I agree with Andrew and think this is illegal since we pay for it. I would be glad to make calls if it would be of help.

  14. Glenn's reply

    So, TW, you’re caving to some threats of legal action but want us to know you’re ‘fighting’ for us.

    Uh, no. No you’re not. If you were you wouldn’t have pulled those channels.

  15. Common Sense is not so Common's reply

    @Karen Faestel – They are not removing the channels from TWC, they are removing them from availability through the iPad App.

  16. jacob's reply

    Karen go in front of your TV and see if you have those channels and then post again on here

  17. darrinpruit's reply

    I am not a TW customer but I am a consumer who is about fed up with these stations telling us what we can and cannot do with their shows after we paid for them. What difference does it make if I pay for a subscription to their programming and I watch it on a device called an iPad. Next will they be telling me I can only watch their crap on a Sony television? iPad is just a brand of consumer devices. It is no different than if I carried my satellite and box in my RV and set it up each night to watch programming I paid for. Basically, these companies are shooting themselves in the foot. Maybe the cable companies will eventually tell the programing companies they are not going to carry their stations if they don’t get on board. And the advertisers, there is some clout there. When are they going to realize that we do not watch their commercials in our homes because we have dvr’s and skip them. But on our portable deivces like phones and tablets we do. I have seen more commercials on my iPhone, computer, and iPad in the last year than I had in the last 5 on my home TV.

  18. Star's reply

    I want this line-up back on the iPad!!! I don’t care for the programmers when they put money first and customers last!!!!!

  19. Kelly's reply

    Honestly it is great to have a bunch of arm chair quarterbacks that no nothing about programming rights. Most of your comments should be directed to the studios, for the most part the programmers agree that TV Everywhere (IPAD, Android, computers and other devices) are part of their future distribution. Unfortunately the studios agreement with the programmers is this issue and not the programmers withholding content from their paying subscribers. It’s within the studios rights to have the programmers cease distribution of their content should the programmer violate their distribution agreements. How would like your favorite shows pulled because the studios have pulled their content from your favorite network? Please direct your comments to the real source of the issue.
    The distribution folks at TW need work through the real issues by educating and provide confidence to the studios that their content is be delivered to paying subscribers!

  20. Hunter's reply

    @Glenn, I don’t think they actually had a choice. At least not yet.

  21. Tom King's reply

    *ALL* you have done is inconvenience the customer. Do I not pay for all these channels already? HAVE SOME GUTS AND STAND UP FOR CUSTOMERS, let the chips fall where they may! Dont balk first and run *another* propaganda campaign (TWC, the company that blames opponents for hating puppies)

  22. kukhuvud's reply

    That sucks; I actually watched a few of these while in the kitchen making dinner or in the bathroom getting ready for work.

    You dumb networks! Guess I’ll watch something else…

    TW, please continue to lean on these old sticks in the mud!

  23. Scott's reply

    I thought Fox News was staying

  24. Mario Gutierrez's reply

    Not only should we be able to watch all of the content that we already pay for in our home, but we should have portability for that function as well. Meaning that we should be able to view all of this programming anywhere we want outside the confines of our houses. That would really bring this App to the forefront of the future of television viewing. By the way all the channels in question are still in the cable TV lineup. So I don’t know what Jacob is referring to.

  25. brad's reply

    boycott the a$$ munchers. i pleadge to no buy anything from advertisers on the channels that have been removed. why one screen is ok (tv)and my i pad, in the same house is beond me…

  26. Roland's reply

    How many of these comments are “plants” by TWC? It’s obvious the rhetoric is written by Time Warner internal people. By your logic, if I pay to watch a movie in the theater, I should be able to watch it anywhere on any deviCe. I should be able to show it in Times Square to millions and since I paid for it, I can distribute any way I want. Nice try. Cable companies make plenty of money off of programmers or else how do you explain Comcast buying NBC or TW buying Lakers rights?

  27. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    Roland – I honestly have no idea how many of these comments are by TWC employees. We’ve got over 47,000 employees and a lot of them are pretty proud of this. However, to the best of my knowledge we definitely didn’t go out and ask our employees to comment here or urge them along in any way. Our social media policy (which I wrote personally) dictates that TWC employees identify themselves when they’re commenting on work/company related issues. I’m not going to sniff out each and every IP address, though.

    I will say that a lot of people seem to genuinely like our app, though.

    I’m not sure that I completely get your logic re: showing movies in Times Square. Happy to explain if you can clarify, unless you were speaking to someone else.

  28. Glenn's reply

    To those taking Time Warner’s side in this… Since they take your money and give it to these networks, they have the leverage with these networks that YOU don’t. You can’t stop paying for that one channel. Time Warner won’t let you. So unless they’re prepared to stand up to the legal threats from these networks, they’re not really on your side. Despite their rhetoric. I appreciate them making this app available, but no that’s not enough.

    I’ll note here that since this post originally went live the Cablevision app has become available, and it makes ALL of your live channels (if you’re a Cablevision customer) available on your iPad, in your home. And no, they probably won’t cave to legal pressure. They fought the nDVR case all the way to the supreme court. Something we should all be impressed by. Not the sort of whimpy behavior TW is showing.

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