Cablevision Systems said its free iPad app, which lets subscribers watch up to 300 live TV channels and access more than 2,200 video-on-demand titles, has been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its April 2 release.
The Optimum App for iPad has been the most popular iPad app in Apple's iTunes App Store's Entertainment category from Sunday through Wednesday afternoon -- followed by Netflix's streaming app at No. 2 -- and is the 10th most popular free iPad app overall.
"We are very pleased by the strong and positive consumer reaction to the Optimum App for iPad, reflected by download activity, ratings and reviews," Cablevision senior vice president of video product management Gary Schanman said in a statement.
However, at least one programmer has objected to the Cablevision iPad app.
YES Network, the regional sports network of the New York Yankees and New Jersey Nets, on Monday said in a statement, "Cablevision does not have the right to offer the YES Network in the manner it is doing so on the iPad, and it has been notified as such."Cablevision declined to comment.
That came after some programmers issued legal challenges to Time Warner Cable over its own iPad app with access to live TV. Last month Discovery Communications, Fox Cable Networks and Viacom demanded TWC remove their networks from the service, complaining viewing in the tablets wasn't allowed under existing carriage deals. The operator subsequently pulled 12 nets from the app.
But Cablevision may not be as compliant in the face of legal challenges. "Do not expect the Dolans to back down in this battle," BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a research note Tuesday.
In 2006, content owners sued Cablevision over the Remote Storage Digital Video Recorder, alleging copyright infringement. The MSO prevailed in that case in 2009, which was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both Cablevision and TWC have asserted that their streaming-video iPad applications are covered under existing TV carriage deals because the apps limit viewing to a subscriber's home, over a home Wi-Fi network. The programming signals are delivered over their DOCSIS infrastructure, not the open Internet.
"Cablevision has the right to distribute programming over its cable system to iPads configured in this way under its existing distribution agreements with programming providers," the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO said in announcing the iPad app.
Not all media companies have a problem having their networks available for in-home viewing on iPads.
In a statement last Friday about the TWC application, Turner Broadcasting System said the iPad app lets customers "watch our live linear networks on a device located within the home, and we, therefore, agreed to allow them to expand the number of networks that they are making available for this application as this is consistent with the agreement we have with Time Warner Cable."
And Discovery may be OK with Cablevision's iPad app under the terms of their deal, but not Time Warner Cable's. In a statement about the Cablevision app, Discovery said "we are open to negotiating and we do have deals with distribution partners where similar rights have been recognized and we have received appropriate consideration and value."
The Cablevision app provides access to the channels available on TV through a subscriber's Optimum iO TV package, although the system currently does not support local ad insertion. Cablevision expects the full VOD library to be encoded and available by early summer.
The Optimum for iPad app also lets subscribers browse, search and set DVR recordings from a TV listings guide, as well as browse and view free VOD and on-demand rentals. It also supports closed-captioning and parental controls.
The iPad app can be used only through a Cablevision-supplied cable modem. However, the MSO said Internet access is not required to use the iPad app: Video customers who don't have Optimum Online data service will be eligible to receive a special DOCSIS cable modem that has no Web access.