The company added streaming functionality to its iPad app last fall, but subscribers were restricted to watching their programs on the same home Internet network as their main DirecTV receiver. Basically, until today, you couldn’t watch anything on your iPad unless you were at home.
The update allows people to watch OnDemand content from a select number of premium movie channels, including HBO and Showtime, as well as DirecTV’s Audience Network. You still won’t be able to watch live channels when you’re away from home, and the selection of OnDemand videos doesn’t include television content at this time.
The company hasn’t made an official announcement about the update, but the new feature mimics what other TV service providers are doing. As consumers increasingly gravitate toward streaming video services such as Netflix, traditional TV providers are launching their own free streaming services to retain existing subscribers and attract new ones.
This strategy has been a successful one for the third-largest TV service provider, Dish Network, which reported an increase in subscriber growth for Q4 2011 due largely to Blockbuster’s DVD-by-mail and streaming video rental service bundles.
And Dish isn’t the only provider expanding its streaming service presence. Last month, Comcast launched its Netflix-like Streampix service, which will be free for customers with bundled TV/Internet/phone service packages and will cost $5 more per month for those with only a single Comcast service.
We can reasonably assume DirecTV will eventually make more TV shows available through its new “DirecTV Everywhere” streaming service.
In addition to the streaming video, the DirecTV iPad app also contains new social features. For instance, there is now a social widget that aggregates video watching activity from your Twitter and Facebook friends as well as the ability to check into a show you’re watching via Miso.
The app is available now via the iTunes App Store. If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, let us know what you think of the new app in the comment section.