Cablevision rolls out Optimum streaming TV app to iPhone
Cablevision Systems is introducing a revamped Optimum App that expands streaming TV services to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and iPod touch, promising subscribers a full cable television experience across iOS devices used in their homes. Cablevision first launched the free Optimum App via Apple's iPad tablet in April, offering customers access to more than 300 channels of live TV alongside thousands of video-on-demand titles, DVR management tools, interactive guide information and search. Cablevision subscribers can also use the Optimum App as a virtual remote control for conventional television sets.
Optimum for iPhone allows a user to watch TV or manage her DVR.
The Optimum App is powered by Cablevision's proprietary Advanced Digital Cable network. Because the app is optimized solely for Wi-Fi networks, users cannot access content outside of the home. More than 200,000 iPad users have downloaded the Optimum App in the four months since it initially surfaced in Apple's App Store.
Cablevision states it controls the right to distribute programming to devices like the iPad and iPhone per terms of its existing distribution agreements with content providers. But in June, Viacom filed suit in federal court in Manhattan, seeking an injunction to halt the Optimum App from including content originally broadcast across Viacom-owned networks including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Viacom is also seeking damages.
"Cablevision, instead of negotiating with Viacom for such rights, simply launched the iPad App with Viacom content," the lawsuit contends, adding talks have "not resulted in an acceptable arrangement." Viacom states that mobile streaming services like the Optimum App undercut its ability to negotiate licensing agreements with platforms like Hulu and Netflix: "Selling the content of its networks to broadband content providers is an important component of Viacom's future business plan," the suit argues, adding that Cablevision's app "has and will continue to negatively impact the viability of that business."
Viacom is also squabbling with Time Warner Cable over the latter's own iPad solution. The Time Warner app--issued weeks prior to the Optimum App--resulted in a flurry of cease and desist notices, prompting the cable provider to drop content from Viacom, Fox and Discovery Communications. Fox and Discovery later relented and allowed Time Warner to stream their content; as of late June, Viacom and Time Warner are working to "resolve this and other litigation and potential litigation."
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