TWC Expands Live Online Streaming Options

Dave Zatz —  March 6, 2012


As TiVo owners, we’re not Time Warner Cable’s biggest fans. However, regular reader Josh R. asked that we set aside any animosity to ensure TWC is acknowledged for pushing the boundaries of online streaming. They were the first major cable provider to provide live television via their iPad app and have recently made a similar experience available to Windows and Mac computers (via Silverlight). Further, they’re promising live “television” will make its way to Ice Cream Sandwich-based Android devices – possibly as soon as this month.

Unfortunately, like most services of this nature, streaming remains limited to the confines of one’s home. It’s TV Everywhere! As long as everywhere doesn’t extend beyond the range of your wireless access point. And TWC TV Online only features a subset of channels. Having said that, TWC, along with Cablevision, are clearly leading the charge in this category. While Verizon FiOS TV customers wonder when their equivalent iPad app might arrive.

10 responses to TWC Expands Live Online Streaming Options

  1. Live streaming is cool and all, but who watches live tv these days? It’s a neat toy, I tried it out, got it to work (after contacting the TWC rep from their blog to fix my account) and then never used it again.

    VOD streaming, on the other hand, would actually be useful. If my TiVo missed modern family due to conflicts or a connectivity problem, I could just watch it on their app rather than getting it from other sources.

  2. VOD is available on some – not sure about TWC, but I know Comcast’s Xfinity iPad app is more about on demand at this point. Live is a bigger technical and licensing feat I’d think, and I still watch a decent amount of live TV and channel surf – mostly when I’m working on other stuff, which is incidentally when I wouldn’t mind viewing on a 10″ screen. Of course, what we ultimately want is both live and on demand in sufficient quantity to provide a similar experience as what we see from our set-tops.

  3. It is odd that Verizon’s so behind on this one. On the other hand, the only live content I care about is sports, and I can get ESPN’s Watch Now with FiOS. At least I can if I can dig out the right login credentials.

  4. TWC is just live streaming. You’re right that it may be more technically difficult, but I do also find it much less useful.

  5. Over the years I’ve tried to get what was playing on my dvr to different places around the house. First it was a simple svideo cable to my pip enabled pc display, then component splitting to get it to multiple tvs in proximity to my box. That covers the first floor and the basement. The last thing was a Vulkano which is Sling like and it allows streaming to an iPad or pc. It works well enough, but isn’t great.

    The real problem with the tw live tv, is that so few of the channels I watch are there. Give me that sports please.

  6. @Greg,

    Agree completely. What are the events I really want to watch live? Sports first of course, but they don’t have ABC, CBS, Fox or NBC, or ESPN, or Versus, or the Tennis Channel or … I don’t think they have a single sports channel of any kind on their live TV list. Which is just stupid.

    Next might be news. Well, they have CNN, HLN, CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News. So for that category things look much better.

    Beyond that I simply wouldn’t watch much live TV. I really wouldn’t be inclined to have Lifetime on in the background on my iPad very often.

  7. “Agree completely. What are the events I really want to watch live? Sports first of course”

    Folks always say “sports” for live tv, but I never get it.

    I’m a massive fan of the NBA, and I religiously start watching on the TiVo about 1:10 after the tip so I can watch the game use comskip on commercials and the halftime gibberish. No matter how amped I am for a live game, I wait for the least buffer I need.

    The DVR has made live televised sports incredibly better by letting you watch the game on a constant immersive drip in about half the time.

    Now, news is the thing for live tv. But even that, unless there is something breaking, I’ll buffer to be able to comskip. (If I just want background news while I’m focussing on something else, well, that’s why god invented both the classic radio and internet streaming radio.)

    (I actually tend to think ‘second screen’ TV on the LAN is wildly overblown, and is of more use to marketers than consumers. The one real exception is I can imagine is households with fewer TV’s than people. But, in general, who the hell wants to watch TV on a tiny tablet when they are in their homes which contain their big screens strategically placed in view of comfortable seating positions? Tablet video is for mobile, not ‘second screen’, at least as I imagine consumer preferences working. But it’s a nice marketing hook.)

    (And on my second parenthetical, manual DVR comskip works much better for sports than for much other ad-supported programming. The networks have done little tricks to make manual DVR comskip very hard work for most entertainment programming, with mini-promos and irregular commercial break times. But sports has timeouts with a specified length. If I get a full timeout in the NBA on national broadcast, exactly 5 thirty second skips gets me back to the action. On a local broadcast, 4 skips gets me back to the arena to watch the action assemble. “Twenty second timeouts” are even easier, since they are precisely a minute and ten seconds between whistles, which means 2 skips is perfect. A week after the season starts, all this is wired into muscle memory, no conscious effort is required, and I can inhale a ‘live’ game in less than an hour and a half.)

  8. Chucky,

    1:10 is three skips forward and three back. I don’t know how you could possibly sit through the 10 seconds of commercials you’d have to endure if you only did two skips forward. Geez, what’s wrong with you?

    Want a TV event that’s worth watching in the background? Try the Tour de France. Mountain stages are 5-7 hours long, and the interesting stuff tends to be concentrated in a couple of 15-20 minute stretches. These are somewhat predictable, so you can just click forward and watch the race profile vs. timeline to see if you’re at one of the obvious spots (think steep and high) where something will likely happen. But sometimes you’ll miss the crucial stuff that way. Having it on in the background while you work, with the sound off, is a fine way to get the whole gestalt of the thing.

    As far as how you watch spots, I know a number of people who do that, but honestly more people that don’t. I’m not sure you’re in the majority here honestly. Lots of people are fine with the normal pace of their chosen spots I think. Of course they have bathroom trips and iPads and magazines and conversations to occupy them during the commercials…

  9. “As far as how you watch spots, I know a number of people who do that, but honestly more people that don’t. I’m not sure you’re in the majority here honestly.”

    I fully agree that I’m not in the majority. I’ve seen the stats that show the majority of folks with DVR’s don’t regularly comskip.

    I’m just sayin’ that for an NBA freak like me, comskip makes me very, very happy. A pure IV drip of the action inside the lines, all in half the time. What could be better?

    Oddly, despite my household’s deep love affair with our TiVo and Mac Mini HTPC, we watch less daily TV than the average American, given the reported stats. I hate ‘background’ TV as a rule. If you ain’t really watching, turn the damn thing off, IMHO. But when I do watch my 1 to 3 hours of TV a day, I like to immerse.

    (Though for something like the Tour de France, I can certainly imagine the pleasures of the alternative. Having the sound off is key to background TV, IMHO. That way, the commercial breaks don’t destroy precious neurons.)

  10. I tried to watch the tennis channel online, and I do have the sports package with Time Warner Cable. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable is does not have a contract of that sort with The Tennis Channel. I would like to watch particular tennis matches without paying more than I am already spending for cable television.