After briefly removing 17 network feeds from its recently launched iPad app, Time Warner Cable restored the full 32-channel lineup a short time before 1:45 p.m. Eastern Wednesday.
On Tuesday evening, the cable operator scaled back the channels available through the TWCable TV app for the iPad to 15, claiming overwhelming demand had caused the system to crash at around 8 p.m. Eastern. The lower number of channels eased the strain on the authentication process, according to TWC, touting the immense popularity of the app on the first day of its release.
Still, in a separate issue, several programmers have objected to Time Warner Cable's service on the grounds that existing carriage agreements do not cover streaming to tablets or other mobile devices -- and would necessitate a separate agreement.
"All 32 channels are back up on TWC's iPad app -- now the question is will programmers actual[ly] sue and issue cease and desist letters?" BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in blog update.
TWC is making the service available within an individual subscriber's home, over a Wi-Fi network. The operator's position is that the iPad app is functionally equivalent to an additional outlet in the home and thus covered under existing carriage deals.
However, one cable network executive told Multichannel News that "most programmer agreements don't cover this kind of usage," which "has to be negotiated separately, and any agreement with regard to portability has to complement our existing mobile revenue streams."
Another programming exec, who also requested anonymity, said, "We do not believe they [Time Warner Cable] have the rights to do this."
Time Warner Cable declined to comment on the programming rights issues, as did many programmers.
Turner Broadcast System, an erstwhile corporate cousin of TWC, said in a statement: "Our goal is to make our networks available on a widely distributed, authenticated basis to our subscribers. We are actively in discussions with our distribution partners to make TV Everywhere a reality."
Turner's CNN and HLN are available through the Time Warner Cable app, but its other networks -- including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, TruTV and Turner Classic Movies -- are not.
The full list of 32 networks available through TWC's iPad app are: A&E, ABC Family, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Channel, E!, Food Network, Fox News, FX, Galavisión, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, HLN, Lifetime Movie Network, MSNBC, MTV HD, National Geographic, Nick, Spike, Syfy, TLC, Travel Channel, USA and VH1.
To use the TWCable TV app for the iPad, Time Warner Cable customers must subscribe to broadband and expanded basic cable TV (or a higher video tier). The app is free to download from Apple's iTunes App Store.