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Comcast shows off an iPad remote

Cable giant demonstrates an upcoming iPad app that will let subscribers search for shows and control their TV remotely.

2 min read

The heads of the big TV companies are in Los Angeles this week, and all of them are making an effort to publicly embrace the brave new world of video. Not freaked out by it at all, OK?

Here's Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, for instance, showing off a forthcoming iPad app that allows you to program and control your TV remotely.

Looks cool. And while I think there's actually a limited-use case for programming your TV while you're out of your house, the ability to search for shows on the app should be better than the crappy experience you get from your remote and set-top box.

So you'll likely get more use out of this thing when you're actually sitting on your couch in front of your TV.

Note that the app won't allow you to actually watch shows on your iPad, but Roberts says that's coming, too. Comcast officials say the company has plans to allow cable subscribers to pull down whatever's available via the company's Fancast video portal to the Apple gadget.

We haven't heard yet about timing and other details (3G versus Wi-Fi-only, etc.), and there will probably be some roadblocks. It's unlikely, for instance, that you'll get the Hulu feed that Fancast has, since Hulu plans to charge for access on the iPad. But people seem very happy with the ABC iPad app, so if Comcast can deliver something similar, it should expect some pats on the back.

Meanwhile, Time Warner used the cable industry's annual convention to announce that it has expanded its "TV Everywhere" program--people who pay for TV get access to the same shows on the Web--to include subscribers to Verizon's Fios TV service.

That makes sense inasmuch as Time Warner's HBO picked Verizon as the first carrier partner for its HBO Go service a few months back.

The thread here is consistent: cable providers and cable programmers want the world to know they're happy to give you all the Web you want--as long subscribers keep paying their monthly bills and getting a bundle of TV channels in return.

If we ever get to the world where you can start buying individual channels--doesn't matter if they're on TV or the Web--then all bets are off and TV economics get radically reshuffled. But we're not getting there anytime soon, and I'm not convinced we ever will.