Is the iPad the Future of Television?

Between DVRs, peer-to-peer sharing, file hosting sites, Sling-like devices, and streaming sites, cable and satellite companies as well as television networks have been struggling to convince potential viewers to keep watching linear television content. It took years for the industry to come to peace with the fact that viewers are now expecting to watch television whenever and wherever they want, and to tolerate services such as Tivo and Sling. It took even more time for them to finally come together to launch services like Hulu. Slowly, this old mindset is changing, and cable and satellite companies have no choice but to embrace new technologies, instead of trying to fight against them. And to better compete against the Slingbox, iTunes and Netflix invasion, they’re now shifting their focus to mobile apps, designed to keep their customers watching their content, and not content coming from elsewhere. The first ones to venture into the mobile space were Dish Network and Comcast, which launched their respective apps last year. While the apps offer nice features, such as program guides and remote control capabilities, they miss a crucial feature: content streaming. Finally, one of these companies managed to convince television networks and content owners to do more than that, as early tomorrow, Time Warner Cable will launch the first iPad app able to stream live television legally. The app will feature 30 channels, as not all television networks agreed to take part of Time Warner Cable’s initiative. 30 channels is a good start though, as it clearly shows that some networks finally understand the need to deliver their content via different ways, in order to survive.

Do not rejoice too quickly though, as the app will be restricted to Time Warner Cable customers only. Moreover, the app will only work inside the customers’ homes, as the cable company does not have the right to allow this content escape its ‘walled garden’.

While this may sound like a baby step, allowing in-home video streaming is a huge step for the cable industry, a group of companies not known for being incredibly innovative.