Slate praises Time Warner as buccaneers for streaming cable to iPad’s via an app, but it’s more like desperate piracy. I can’t feel much sympathy for Time Warner, which would have none if anyone had streamed its cable offerings that way without permission. And Viacom has a point. Time Warner cable was supposed to be in the cable business, not in the Hulu business.
For customers this is probably a win-win. If Time Warner wins, then Viacom and everyone else will have no choice but to stream on their own, creating a crazy competitive environment. But odds are that it will be settled with Time Warner ponying up more and reaching an agreement with Viacom on what programming is restricted and what isn’t.
Time Warner is squeezed by the need to provide added value to cable customers who don’t think of cable as the end all anymore. Streaming to mobile device can help make cable look relevant again. And prevent customer defections.