On the heels of Time Warner Cable’s TV on the iPad drama, Cablevision has taken the issue to the next level with the launch of its Optimum app for iPad, which allows “…the full cable television experience to the tablet device, and allows the iPad to function as a television.”

Cablevision, the cable MSO with both New York metro and rural properties (through its Bresnan acquisition), launched the app over the weekend, which like other iPad TV apps uses Wi-Fi connectivity. It provides access to approximately 300 channels and VOD content, based on the subscriber’s video package. The app also provides an interactive, searchable guide.

“It gives our customers the additional flexibility and convenience of watching television throughout the home, in places where set-top boxes might not be ideal or even practical, like the kitchen, bathroom or work room.  This is the future of Advanced Digital Cable televisions served with virtual set-top boxes, and just one of many digital displays we are going to be serving through a variety of applications,” said Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s chief operating officer in a news release.

Up to three iPads per home are authorized to use the service, but only two simultaneously. Cablevision boldly states their existing programming agreements allow them to distribute content in this manner. They are using their ‘Advanced Digital Cable television network,’ which has switched digital video capability, to enable the iPad TV app.

Cablevision Optimum iPad App Screenshot

It remains to be seen if programmers agree with this interpretation. Distributing content to tablets like the iPad are flaming a fire of content distribution rights’ disputes. Programmers have maintained in other disputes that video service providers don’t have those rights, in an attempt to extract more rights fees for their programming, some argue. As evidenced by this weekend’s actions, Cablevisions begs to differ.

This fight should get interesting, as the growth of tablets is accelerating, setting up a showdown between the two inextricably linked, at least for now,  business partners.

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