August 19, 2010

Verizon Demos iPad Live TV App For FiOS Customers

Verizon Communications Inc. demonstrated an iPad application on Wednesday that allows users to view live television channels on the Apple tablet computer.

The company said it expects to launch the new app, dubbed "What's Hot", sometime next year to its FiOS TV subscribers, giving them the ability to watch live television on the iPad and other tablet computing devices.

Speaking at a briefing with reporters, Verizon's Chief Information Officer Shaygan Kheradpir said the company is in discussions with content providers to gain rights to extend programming agreements to tablet computing devices.

Kheradpir said Verizon does not expect to pay programmers any additional fees for offering their content on mobile devices, since content providers are themselves interested in expanding programming beyond home televisions.

Verizon's FiOS network currently serves markets with about 18 million people.   At the end of the second quarter, the company had 3.8 million subscribers for its FiOS Internet service and 3.2 million FiOS TV subscribers.

Verizon is not alone seeking to expand its TV service beyond home televisions.  Cable network operator Cablevision Systems has also mentioned a similar iPad app, but has not specified when they might launch such a service.

The biggest challenge to expanding live TV programming beyond household televisions is in convincing owners of the TV channels to embrace the idea.

"There's a wide diversity of opinion on how to move the industry forward, so you really have to convince them one by one that this is good for everybody: the consumer, programmer, distributor and the business," said Shawn Strickland, Verizon's vice president of consumer strategy and planning, during an interview with the Associated Press.

Rather than launching the new service today with just a few channels, Verizon said it would prefer to wait until next year to introduce a full portfolio of programming, Strickland said.

The company does not plan to charge consumers any extra fees for iPad viewing, and plans to make the service available on other tablet devices as they come out, he added.

The new service will initially allow consumers to view programming only within the subscriber's home, but could ultimately be extended outside the home once the rights issue are negotiated.