As mentioned within an official blog post on Time Warner Cable Untangled, the cable provider is launching a beta test of a streaming application called TWC TV that allows subscribers to access live TV at a desktop or laptop computer. After logging into TWCTV.com, the user can browser through channel listings organized by network and includes both the show name as well as the episode name. The user interface includes a search function that allows subscribers to find content by a person’s name, show’s title or episode name. Similar to a TiVo interface, the guide contains up to seven days of data and users can organize content by HD quality or setting up a group of favorite channels.
While the guide contains all channels included in the subscriber’s current cable package, not all channels can be viewed over the PC. Time Warner has included all channels within the guide to allow users to schedule recordings on a DVR located at home. For instance, if a user forgets to record the next new episode of Parks and Recreation, they can use the PC interface to record a single instance of the show or all future new episodes just like TiVo’s season pass. Subscribers can alter all DVR programming on the device including deleting future recordings. In addition, users can filter channels within the PC interface to eliminate channel listings that cannot be watched on the computer.
The PC interface also acts as an advanced remote control, ideal if the current remote is lost in the couch again. Within the user interface, the subscriber can select “Watch on TV” on a specific program to automatically change the channel on the main television. However, this feature is only available to users with a digital set-top box and have the device connected into the Internet. The PC application also includes closed captioning support for hearing impaired users. The app currently runs in Google Chrome 17, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and up, Safari 5 and up for both Mac and Windows as well as Firefox 4 and up. The app does requires Silverlight version 4 though.
With this aggressive move to push more content out to platforms that have previously been dominated by services like Netflix, Time Warner Cable likely hopes to offer the consumer more reasons to sign up for a monthly cable package. Prior to the announcement of TWC TV’s PC service, the company launched a TWC TV iPhone application for anyone running iOS 4.3 or higher. Working only within the home, the app allows users to watch live TV as well as access many of the functions offered with the PC version of TWC TV. The company has also released a TWC TV app for Android phones and tablets, but it does not include the ability to watch live TV within the home. Time Warner Cable is expected to update the Android version of the app when more devices get Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0).
When Time Warner Cable released the TWC TV iPad app March 2011, the company ran into resistance from Viacom. Viacom ended up taking Time Warner Cable to court over the streaming video application forcing TWC to remove eleven Viacom channels from the application. The case was temporarily put on hiatus until November 2011 when the companies started fighting over the right to stream content yet again during a contract renewal argument.
During December 2011, the company announced a deal with HBO to provide access to the HBO GO streaming service for all subscribers during January 2012. Time Warner Cable was one of the few cable services without HBO GO service until recently. Time Warner subscribers that pay for access to HBO each month can use the application on game consoles, smartphones, tablets, computers and third part set-top boxes.