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Time Warner Cable brings live TV to the iPad

March 14, 2011 |  2:29 pm

Time Warner iPad app

Time Warner Cable Inc. is launching an iPad application that will bring live television to the iPad, although don't plan on going farther than your frontyard as viewing will be restricted to the home.

The app, available for free download Tuesday, provides Time Warner Cable customers who pay for video and Internet to watch 30 cable channels on their Apple tablet, including Comedy Central, MTV and Fox News.

"We are tremendously excited about this app, which is the first of many that will allow our customers to harness the power of their tablet-type  devices," Time Warner Cable President Rob Marcus said in a statement.

For the moment, technical limitations prevent the app from providing access to broadcast network programming, because of the difficulties in handling regional blackout requirements and re-creating local feeds from TV stations, according to a spokesman.

Nor does Time Warner Cable have the rights to allow iPad owners to watch live TV such as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" once they leave home. Such flexibility would require separate agreements with programmers --and probably cost the cable operators more in license fees.

Over time, Time Warner Cable envisions adding more features, such as the ability to use the tablet as a remote control, to set home recording or watch on-demand video.

Comcast Corp. began offering its digital subscribers on-demand access to about 3,000 hours of programming last fall, including shows from HBO, Showtime, Cartoon Network and BBC America. The iPad app has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times since it launched last November. The nation's largest cable operator plans to offer live TV via the iPad before the end of the year, but like Time Warner Cable it will be available only in the home.

Cable operators are seeking to hold onto their subscribers in the face of competition from Netflix Inc. and Hulu Inc., which already stream movies and TV shows to the iPad -- effectively bypassing traditional distribution channels.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo of Time Warner Cable's iPad application that plays live TV. Credit: AP Photo/Time Warner Cable Inc.