High-speed data becoming 'anchor' product

The tussle over rights to TV channels via iPad app may have spilled over into the courts, but that’s done little to temper ambitions for the technology at TW Cable.

The MSO used its quarterly earnings call Thursday to talk up expansion plans for its TW Cable TV app, which CEO Glenn Britt characterized as just the beginning of a paradigm shift for the multichannel business that applies beyond tablets to smart TVs.

“So although the initial application was for the iPad,” he said, “I think the bigger story here is about the TVs, which are all going to be receiving our video service this way.”

Britt did not comment specifically on dueling lawsuits TW Cable exchanged with Viacom earlier this month over the iPad app. But while that suit has kept the MSO from transmitting channels in the MTV Networks portfolio, Britt indicated there’s still plenty more the app will deliver later this year, including “nearly all of the linear cable channels, as well as broadcast channels in several of our biggest cities and a lot of on-demand content.”

Execs said 360,000 users have downloaded the app so far, and 70 channels are now available, none of which are broadcast or on-demand content. Cablevision launched a similar app weeks after TW Cable did that includes all linear channels, broadcast and on-demand content.

Moreover, Britt said the iPad app is not a one-off product; TW Cable has invested in a development team looking at the two-way technology for other services to be used on a multitude of devices. That will ultimately lead to improved navigation and the phase out of set-top boxes, though those changes could take years.

In other news, TW Cable said it surpassed 10 million broadband subscribers in the first quarter with execs adding that high-speed data is fast becoming the company’s “anchor” product.

At the same time, TW Cable continued to lose TV subscribers in the period ending March 31, down 66,000, mostly analog single-play customers. That is far fewer than the 141,000 the company lost in the fourth quarter.

Overall for the first quarter, revenues were up 5% to $4.8 billion, while profits soared 52% to $325 million.

Revenues from broadband in the period were $1.3 billion, while video revenues were at $2.8 billion.

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