The App isn’t a game changer, as services similar exist and have existed for quite a while. Time Warner Cable itself has been offering direct streaming options on their website (and directly to your TV, if it is connected to the Internet) for a while now. The app’s release does however reflect the recent trend in the digitalization and availability of television. In the words of Neil Patrick Harris’ Dr. Horrible in his Golden Globe intervention, the Internet is the future.
Even big premium cable channels like Showtime and HBO are now offering their own web-based streaming services, and there is of course Netflix, the market leader in terms of on-line streaming. Of course, while Netflix is a paid service and HBO Go only offers access to HBO’s own shows and movies, a free, no-extra-charges app from Time Warner only serves to enhance user experience and nudge the cable channel towards the new internet-centric model that more and more businesses are adopting.
Because despite big media business’ stubbornness in latching itself to the last to a dying business model, the times they are a-changin’. More and more media is consumed online, and the fact that large companies are not adapting to this pushes a lot of users into gray and black markets including torrent sites and file repositories like the now defunct Megaupload. Today’s society is a digital one, where consumers try to squeeze their media absorption into every little bit of spare time: on long commutes, during breaks at work or in the morning while grabbing a cup of coffee or brushing their teeth.
Using this digitalization of society as an exploitable advantage rather than a piracy-boosting hindrance is not only good for creating customer loyalty; it also works well towards creating a positive image, potentially luring over new subscribers. In a competitive market like the cable one, every advantage is a boon, and a significant advantage like being an On the Go Movies early adopter can be huge.
It is very likely that the Time Warner cable app will not be a solitary foray into the digital environment. As media consumption moves more from storage to streaming and Internet use shifts further towards tablet devices we are probably going to see a lot more Cable Apps hitting the appstores. Whether that will be indicative of a shift in the business model or just a quick jump on the App bandwagon is still something that’s too early to tell.