Cablevision Launches Streaming Live TV To The iPad

by Damian on April 4, 2011 · 7 comments

in News

Last month I picked up the iPad 2, a bit of a spontaneous buy, and to date I have been debating whether or not the purchase was worth it. Well, a few days ago Cablevision released their free iPad App (called the Optimum for iPad App) which may have single-handedly justified my purchase. The new Cablevision iPad App is available for Cablevision Optimum subscribers, and allows the subscriber to stream all (including VOD) subscribed channels directly to the iPad. This can only be done from within your home network (i.e. no luck if you are traveling), allowing for up to 3 iPads to be registered with the ability to stream to 2 at once.

Where it could get interesting is that a few weeks back Time Warner Cable announced their own Live TV streaming App, only to be met with push back from the networks. Some of the channel operators (such as Scripps and Viacom) immediately requested TWC remove their content from the iPad due to contract violations as it appears that per the distribution agreements the channel operators need to grant the right to stream their content over the internet. More then likely it comes down to money, as granting the right to stream will probably involve a fee being paid to the channel operators. Cablevision has taken a different approach as stated in their press release:

Cablevision uses its secure and proprietary Advanced Digital Cable television network to deliver cable programming to customers for viewing on the Optimum App for iPad, and content is not delivered over the Internet. The application turns the iPad into an additional television, enabling Cablevision customers to view the same live programming and VOD content already being delivered to other TVs in the home as part of the service they have paid for. 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.

You may be asking, why would you want to watch TV on a 10in tablet instead of on a big screen TV? Well, here are some perfect examples, at least for me:

(1) If you have kids, undoubtedly you have been in a situation where you want to watch something but are forced to sit through another episode of Handy Manny. Well, now you can easily tune in to any channel you want and still spend “quality time” with the family. For me this especially comes in handy now that the baseball season has started (let’s Go Mets!!!).

(2) You now have a portable TV. It would be nice to have a small TV in the kitchen, but I don’t have the connection setup. Simply throw the iPad onto a stand in the Kitchen and now I have full TV functionality without the need to run wires or add additional hardware. I want to catch some TV on the deck in the backyard, the iPad can take care of that as well.

Using the Optimum for iPad App:

I have been using the Optimum for iPad App for a few days now, so let’s take a closer look at what it offers.

After downloading and installing the Optimum App you should now be greeted by an icon on your home page

Launching the App will take you to the main Home Page. From here you can see what are the latest shows available On Demand, see your recent recording on your DVR box, have a quick access to the channels, and go through the various options in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

Clicking Live TV will bring up the Live TV feed for whatever channel you were last on

Once on Live TV there are a few on screen options to choose from (OSD will disappear and the Live TV feed will go to full screen after a few seconds). Click on the “What’s On Now” icon will bring up a list of all shows on currently and how far along they are. Clicking the “Channel Number” icon will allow you to manually input a channel number for viewing.

Next up on the Toolbar is the Channel Guide, showing you a channel grid for all shows.

Navigate through the grid to select a show, and clicking on it will bring up details of the selected show. You will have the option to Watch or Record

If you choose to record the show, you can select which DVR in your house you want the recording to take place on

One other nice option with the channel grid, next to each channel is a star. Clicking on the star will denote this channel as a favorite. Then the next time you go into the Channel Guide you can sort by favorites to see only channels that you are interested in.

The On Demand option on the Toolbar gives you the ability to purchase Videos On Demand. In many cases there are two options to choose from for each movie (HD and SD). I assume for iPad viewing there is no difference as this would only be more applicable for TV viewing.

Another option on the toolbar is the iO DVR. This feature allows you to manage all DVRs in your house, such as viewing what recordings are available as well as deleting. Keep in mind that you cannot actually view a recording on the iPad. This feature has been available for a while now through Optimum’s website and their original App.

Have a question about the Optimum App, hit up the About button.

One concern you may have if you have kids is how to manage parental controls. Well, this can be managed under the Settings toolbar icon, as well as managing some other settings.

Last on the Toolbar is an option to Search. You can either try to search by keyword or Browse through various predefined fields.

Final Thoughts:

I must admit that I was caught off guard by this App in a good way. Simply put, it does just about everything I could ask for and is dead simple to operate. Streaming quality I found very good. The first few seconds would show some pixelation but that would eventually disappear. I also had no issues with the signal being dropped or constant buffering in my limited use, something that can be quite frustrating when watching videos online. There were a few instances where the App would just randomly close on me, but otherwise I found it to be stable. Now keep in mind that there are a few limitations. First, you are limited to the channels that you currently subscribe to (so this App will not magically get you access to Playboy’s airing of “Booty And The Beast” unless you are already a subscriber). This App only streams Live TV, there are no DVR capabilities. For recordings on any of your DVRs you must still watch from the TV connected to that DVR (although hopefully that will change as Cablevision is in the process of rolling out Cloud Based DVRs). The App only works for the iPad and not the iPhone/iPod. Lastly, Live TV streaming will only work while in your home.

One of our frequent visitors jam3ohio had done a review on the ASUS EP-121 Windows 7 tablet, and to be honest I was having a little bit of tablet envy, especially at the idea of being able to stream Live TV from my networked TV tuner to Windows Media Center. However, much of that envy is now gone (although there is still a little left :-) ), especially since with the Optimum App I have access to my full cable lineup and not just the handful of Digital QAM channels I get with my TV Tuner. I think Apps like this also hurt the non iOS tablets since currently it appears development is still primarily focused on the iPad first (so if you were in the market for a Tablet an App like this that is only available currently to iPad owners may sway your decision). I am just excited that I can catch the start of the Mets games at night instead of Curios George!!!


Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 7 comments }

jam3ohio April 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

Damian–

Tablet envy indeed! On the EP-121 I do like being able to watch DVR’d recordings with DIRECTV2PC loaded and of course live TV over Media Center from my HDHomeRun is fun. But this application looks great! If I was on Cablevision, I’d be very interested in using it. Now if only DirecTV would roll out an iPad app, I could borrow my wife’s iPad and have at it!

And at least you are not a Yankees fan. Go Tribe! (Reference to the lowly Cleveland Indians, my baseball affiliation…).

Jim

Brajesh April 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

DirecTV does have an iPad app, but you can’t watch live TV on it. You can only control your DTV receivers, access the guide, schedule recordings, etc.

Damian April 4, 2011 at 10:43 am

The original Optimum App worked the same way. I imagine all the cable/sat providers will have a live tv app soon enough (or maybe just wait to see how this whole TWC/Cablevision thing pans out with the providers)

Damian April 4, 2011 at 10:42 am

Jim,

I actually rarely use my Cablevision DVR anymore as I record all my shows on my PC so I can cut out the commercial and archive to watch later. However, even something like this would come in much more handy with the EP-121 as I either have to make sure the TV recording are encoded in Apples format or I need to have some transcoding done so I can watch.

I think for now I will wait for a Sandy Bridge version to see if power consumption gets better. Also, I think Windows 8 may be out by year end for beta/RC testing, so I may hold off and see what improvements that will bring for a touch based interface (of course if they remove WMC from it which has been rumored at times I won’t bother!!!).

Yankee fans here are panicking because they have the same record as the Mets lol

Bob April 5, 2011 at 6:32 am

This application sounds pretty good up until you try to leave your house with your iPad. With DISH Network you can stream live and recorded content to your iPad anywhere you have a broadband connection using Sling technology. As a customer and employee of DISH, I can’t begin to tell you how great it is.

Damian April 5, 2011 at 7:24 am

Yeah, that does sound great. I actually had a slingbox a while back but lost the need to use it. If I get to the point where I really need LiveTV outside of my house I may pick up another sling box (I assume it is still sold as a stand alone product?)

Jesus July 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I personally believe that DISH Network has the best solution for TV everywhere. With my employee Sling adapter from DISH, I can stream live and recorded TV to my android devices everywhere I have 3G coverage or WiFi. So unlike Cablevision, I can watch live TV pretty much anywhere. If you are ready to find the provider that is right for you, check out http://www.besttvforme.com.

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