For Verizon customers with iPads, there's now a lot more television to watch around the house.
Verizon is making available a slew of channels that customers can watch live on their iPads, including HGTV, Nickelodeon, Fox News Channel, AMC and NFL Network — marking a new area of competition with rival Bright House Networks, which last year started offering some live TV channels on tablets.
Verizon already had a few channels available on other devices such as the Xbox, and many premium channels such as HBO and CNN already have tablet versions. But as with other cable and satellite TV companies going in this direction, the expansion further makes the tablet yet another TV screen to watch around the house.
The service works through an app now available at the iTunes store. The good news for customers is the service comes with no extra cost or set-top-box fee, and it works on the most popular tablet, the Apple iPad.
There are some parental controls, with age categories such as 13 and older and 18 and older, which is handy for parents who envision the tablet as a way to keep the children occupied or just free up the main TV in the house for other people. There also is a feature to order and stream movies from the FiOS on-demand library.
Verizon plans a formal announcement today, though the upgrade quietly went live at iTunes a few days ago.
Like many things with cable, the project comes with limits and fine print. Customers can only stream channels while using a tablet in their home and connected to their Verizon FiOS Wi-Fi signal.
Other services, such as HBO Go or Hulu, work anywhere there's a broadband connection.
The Verizon tablet app also only works if customers have a high-definition-capable set-top box. It does not show local affiliates of NBC, ABC, NBC or Fox— unlike the live TV app from Bright House that does have local TV feeds. The Verizon app does not have DVR features to pause or rewind live TV, and it cannot stream shows stored on the home DVR.
The service likely will be available soon on Droid-based tablets in addition to the iPad, though Verizon officials declined to offer a timetable for that rollout.
The Verizon project marks another volley in the competition with rival Bright House Networks.
Last year, Bright House started offering several dozen live channels on tablets — including A&E, Discovery, Lifetime, CNN and the Disney Channel — a system that also only works inside the customer's home.Now the system has more than 200 channels available.
Though tablets have been on the market for only the past few years, already 9 percent of people are watching shows on tablets, according to data from market researcher Parks Associates.
Content companies such as Disney and Fox see huge opportunities there, especially as their current projects don't allow viewers to skip commercials — a major source of revenue.