Cablevision Extends TV App to iPod Touch, iPhone

Cablevision Systems extended its Optimum App for live TV and video-on-demand viewing within a subscriber's home to iPod touch and iPhone devices, and said those apps -- as well as an updated one for the iPad -- can now function as a remote control.

The cable operator, which has pushed the envelope by extending its TV lineup to Apple handheld devices without first obtaining consent from the program providers (and has been sued by Viacom over it), said the iPad version of the app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times from the iTunes Store since it became available in April.

Cablevision has said it has the right to distribute TV services to remote devices through its existing contracts with programmers. The apps provide access to more than 300 live TV channels and the MSO's full VOD lineup.

According to Cablevision, the apps let an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch function "as a television," and the MSO says the programming is delivered "securely to our customers in the home on Cablevision's own proprietary network." Subscribers don't need to subscribe to Optimum Online; Cablevision will provide a special limited-function cable modem for video-only customers to be able to access the apps.

Viacom, however, has asserted that the distribution of its programming through the iPad app is not covered under existing agreements.

In the lawsuit against Cablevision, Viacom is seeking $2 million per trademark violation plus additional unspecified monetary damages and to permanently enjoin the cable operator from distributing its programming via the iPad app "and any other new and/or emerging media technology platforms not expressly covered by the agreements."

According to the lawsuit, when the companies have previously expanded their programming-distribution deals, "Viacom received additional consideration from Cablevision for each additional right granted under the amendments."

In a similar dispute, Viacom sued Time Warner Cable for breach of contract and copyright violation, while the MSO sued the media company seeking a declaratory judgment that the TWCable TV app was covered by current distribution deals. In June the two parties agreed to a "standstill agreement" freezing their lawsuits, while they try to reach a business arrangement. The Viacom networks remain unavailable through the TWCable TV app.

Cablevision also said the app can now be used with all three Apple devices as a remote to control set-top boxes in the home.