Large cable operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have launched popular iPad apps over the past 6 months, and now technology provider Clearleap is looking to help get other cable operators into the iPad app game (as well as apps for other connected devices). This morning Clearleap is announcing a set of APIs for its Stream On Demand product that allow developers to quickly create an app's front-end user experience while having the back-end processes fulfilled without any custom development.
iPad and other connected device apps are a critical part of cable operators' larger TV Everywhere strategies of unlocking cable programming from the set-top box and allowing subscribers to watch programming anytime, anywhere and on any device. However, the proliferation of devices, and the need to have programming delivered securely, has created significant complexity and cost to accomplish this goal. Underscoring the challenges, even the largest operator, Comcast, only just last week announced its Xfinity TV app would support video streaming to iPhones/iPod Touches, and it has yet to release this for any Android device. For mid-size and smaller operators who don't have the same resources, iPad and other apps are out of reach.
Clearleap has been in the forefront of blending the delivery of online video and traditional cable-delivered video services into seamless packages, having previously announced integrations with set-top providers Pace and Roku. With the new APIs, the goal is to bring all of the same back-end management capabilities - provisioning, billing, authentication, security, etc. to iPad and other devices while still allowing the operator to create a custom-looking interface.
Of course, while Clearleap is providing the technical foundation for iPad delivery, the big challenge operators still need to surmount is acquiring the rights to deliver video to apps. The recent flap over Time Warner Cable's iPad app illustrated how cable TV networks (led by Viacom and Fox) are still guarded about allowing streaming of their most popular programs to cable operators' iPad apps. As a side note, at a TV Everywhere panel I participated in at Brightcove's PLAY conference last week, rights were repeatedly cited as the key gating factor for TV Everywhere to succeed.
That said, pressure is continuing to build on the entire pay-TV industry to realize TV Everywhere's vision. News earlier this week that Apple will soon unveil "iCloud" further demonstrates how significant the potential competition is for pay-TV operators, and why giving access to content from multiple devices is a strategic imperative. This topic will be a huge focus at the industry's Cable Show in 2 weeks.
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