Cablevision Getting Into Gaming; Connecting Facebook Photos To TV

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) will be releasing a free interactive multi-player game service in the next few week, as it looks to create an online experience on subscribers’ TV sets, said COO Tom Rutledge during the company’s Q3 earnings call. Secondly, Cablevision will roll out “IO photos,” which allows users to view their Facebook photos on their TV. Both products are part of the IO Digital Video service.

Keeping viewing at home: Cablevision execs said they are intrigued by the “TV Everywhere” concept, but the company won’t do anything on that front for at least a while. It is keeping its focus on in-home viewing.

“We clearly think that to do out-of-home, TV Everywhere-type products that you need rights structures and we are interested in participating in those types of programs should those rights become available to us,” Rutledge said. “It’s not an active plan at the moment to launch it, but we are following it closely. When I suggested that we were ready to do in-home services, we’re talking about cable television in the home with all of the features and benefits of the cable television service and using an iPad device as a monitor for the cable television service. And sometimes that device will be a monitor, sometimes it will be a remote control device, sometimes it will be a DVR application device. But it will be an in-home service and its traditional cable television service and it will essentially be an additional outlet, just like another TV is an additional outlet.”

Earlier, he noted that 200,000 customers are using Cablevision’s Web DVR service — which lets users set their viewing remotely — and 60,000 have downloaded Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Android apps during the last several months to do the same thing.

On Fox: Execs wouldn’t talk about whether there was any subscriber loss due to the two-week blackout of Fox stations due to the battle over retrans fees.

Rutledge: “Well, I guess the first thing I would say is that it’s a very unpleasant way of doing business, having a major conflict like that in public. But we are trying to save our customers costs. And these retransmission consent fees are passed through on a basic service on a regulated tier. Our behavior was not uneconomic, meaning we were doing a rationale thing by not carrying the services at the prices that were being pushed to us. That said, we have called for regulatory changes and we think that it’s necessary to fight for your customers and to keep the cost low for the product given the economic situation people are in.”

He declined to offer any sense of whether there was a negative impact on subscribers due to the Fox blackout. “The fourth quarter is usually better for us than the third quarter. The underlying cyclical trends in the business remain. The underlying economic pressures in housing remain and I’m not going to give you a forecast for the fourth quarter now, but suffice it to say, we think we did the rationale thing.”