iPad App Goes Too Far?

Time Warner Cable is under attack for their new iPad App that allows users with iPad’s to watch their subscription cable TV anywhere in their home on their iPad.  This new App that Time Warner released on March 15, 2011 has already been downloaded by 300,000 customers, but has received a surprisingly negative backlash from programmers that has included at least one or more documented cease and desist letters sent to Time Warner.  Time Warner’s Chief programming officer Melinda Witmar said, “We certainly did not anticipate that programmers would be unhappy about this in any way. TWC has received a number of inquiries and there are definitely some programmers who said they don’t agree… (we) have been sent “one or more” cease-and-desist letters but so far there has been no formal lawsuit lodged over the TWCable TV app.”

I can’t understand why programmers would be against this?  I mean it just allows the subscriber to get the cable content they are paying for anywhere in their home and increases the chance that they are watching the programmers’ programs and seeing their advertisements, right?  Can anyone explain to me why this would be a bad thing for the programmers? Do you think this is an issue of the programmers not fully understanding the technology here?

The second thing I found interesting about this story is that Time Warner has now responded by creating a website entitled, “http://iwantmytwcabletvapp.com/”

This site is for customers and other interested parties to weigh in on the issue and provide feedback.  The four links featured are Home, Behind the Scenes, Join the Discussion and What You’re Saying.  It also has a live Twitter News Feed from Time Warner Cable embedded on the page.  This approach to “fixing” the problem is fantastic and something I think we will see more and more of in the years ahead, companies turning over the issue to the masses through social media and discussion platforms.

Questions:

Do you think the backlash from the programmers in response to the App is an issue of simply not understanding the technology or something more?

What risk does a company run when they turn over an issue to the masses through social media?  How do they moderate/keep it in control without being too restrictive?

Sources:

http://blogs.forbes.com/dorothypomerantz/2011/03/30/time-warner-cable-under-attack-over-ipad-app/

http://www.multichannel.com/article/465946-TWC_s_Witmer_We_Didn_t_Anticipate_iPad_App_Backlash.php

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6 Responses to iPad App Goes Too Far?

  1. James J says:

    First server crashes, and now this? I am a huge fan of all these mobile apps being released from paid TV providers, but I am not too impressed with TWC’s version. It does allow streaming of live TV, but only within your own WIFI Network. I use the Remote Access app from my employer, DISH Network, to stream live TV and DVR recordings anywhere. I was even able to connect it to my flip down screen that’s in my SUV!! I am sure TWC will expand their abilities and settle differences, but they have a lot of catching up to do.

  2. Jen Hau says:

    my guess is that time warner’s app decreases tv networks’ ad sales revenues.

    some tv networks have their own apps, which enable viewers to have access to their programs through various devices with a fixed price. Meanwhile, these networks sell advertising spots to different advertisers in addition to the normal tv ad spots. Time Warner’s app provides its subcribers a way to go around the networks’ apps and therefore take away one of the networks’ profit channels.

  3. Mattson says:

    That’s a good point and I guess I can see where this could be somewhat of an issue for the programmers, but at the end of the day I think that it is a win-win-win for TimeWarner, the programmers and the customer.

  4. Christine says:

    I’m one of the people who downloaded the App, only to find out that you can only use it if your internet & router are also supplied from TimeWarner, not just your cable, which is not the case in our household. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and annoyed, particularly as all the TV ads TW has been running for the app are all claiming that ‘anyone’ with a cable subscription can get and use the app, which is so obviously misleading. And probably the worst decision with regards to brand promise and product ever.

    • Mattson says:

      Christine, thank you for sharing that insight into the actual product. I have not tried it at all, and of course they make it difficult by requiring that your internet and router are supplied by them…which is ridiculous. But I think you bring up a great point here because no matter how good your communications are with your public, if your product doesn’t come as advertised or isn’t really that great a product, then you are going to alienate a lot of customers.

  5. jacquetw says:

    I agree with Jen. TV Networks have a decrease of viewers, causing their profits in company ads and viewer ratings to decline. With Hulu, Netflix, and other internet websites that allows viewers to catch their favorite shows, I wonder how many viewers are actually sitting on their couch at night and watch their favorite television shows during the actual time that its aired.

    I love watching TV. However, because of my daily schedules (hanging out with friends, school, work, etc.) I can never seem to catch my favorite shows on TV at night (yes, I’m paying cable for nothing). However, I understand that networks need money from ad sales, so I try my best to support my favorite shows on the network’s actual website instead.