NBC, ABC create own iPad apps as Viacom battles Cablevision, TWC

While Viacom (NYSE: VIA) battles Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) over those MSOs' efforts to deliver Viacom programming via Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad device, NBC and ABC have launched their own iPad apps--although neither app focuses on live streaming TV.

NBC Live offers second-screen social features and interactivity that syncs with shows being televised and ABC Video Bookstore packages archived news footage with photo galleries and interactive timelines. Both applications are now live on Apple's App Store, and are free to download (consumers can make use of ABC's in-app payments to buy individual video books).

Meanwhile, the imbroglio between Viacom and two of the nation's largest MSOs continues. Time Warner Cable filed suit against Viacom in U.S. District Court in New York's southern district on April 7, claiming that its iPad app is legal and permissable. Viacom fired right back with its own suit accusing TWC of violating its distribution agreement with the programmer.

Viacom has not yet sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cablevision, but it is waging a war of words. In a statement released April 8, Viacom said Cablevision "seized distribution rights that Viacom has not granted." The programming giant said it grants rights to distribute its content based on specific technologies and devices.

"We have extensive relationships with dozens of distribution companies who deal with us fairly and deliver outstanding consumer experiences on a variety of platforms," Viacom said in its statement. "These relationships are based on fair licensing agreements that provide appropriate value for everyone involved. We will take the steps necessary to ensure that Cablevision respects our rights."

For its part, Cablevision maintains it's doing what its contract with Viacom allows and contends that an iPad is no different than a TV set. "Optimum App for iPad simply turns the iPad into another television in the home, and one it is worth noting our customers are finding particularly enjoyable and easy to use," Cablevision said in a statement.

Meanwhile, NBC is hoping to capitalize on the fact that that more of its viewers are watching its programming via smartphones and tablets. The new iPad service serves up trivia, quizzes, polls and commentatries that are synchronized with the show that is being watched by the user. ABC Video Bookstoreoffers "video books" combining ABC News video footage with text, photos and interactivity.

For more:
- CNET has this story
- eCommerce Times has this story
- the Guardian has this story

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