Time Warner subsidises Slingbox

Time Warner Cable has revealed it will subsidise some purchases of a set-top box called Slingbox enabling out of home viewing for their subscribers.

Time Warner Cable said it would give subscribers to its $99-a-month Wideband Internet service a rebate for the total cost of the $300 device. Some are interpreting the move as a shot across the bows of cable programmers who say that distributors should pay them more for the right to such place-shifting.

Time Warner Cable has been wrangling with channels for months over this issue. In March the company released an app that allowed its subscribers to watch cable channels on the iPad at home. The app was challenged by some programmers, led by Viacom, which accused Time Warner Cable in a lawsuit of “unlicensed distribution” of its content. Time Warner Cable argued that its existing carriage contracts cover all the screens in a subscriber’s home.

Viacom also battled Cablevision, over an iPad app that replicated the entire channel lineup, they settled when Cablevision conceded that it should pay more for the right to stream to tablet screens.

With the Slingbox rebate, Time Warner Cable is reminding programmers that there are other ways to port channels to different screens and places.

Jeffrey A. Hirsch, the executive vice president and CMO for Time Warner Cable, said the rebate was a promotion for Wideband, which only an undisclosed fraction of its subscribers have.

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