Cable providers must perform a balancing act between providing television services and broadband Internet, two functions that can seem to work at cross purposes. The latest demonstration of this is Time Warner Cable’s decision to offer rebates on the purchase of a Slingbox starting in September.

A Slingbox unit makes it possible for users to watch any movie or television program they could watch at home from anywhere that has an Internet-connected screen, whether it’s a laptop in the back yard, an office computer, a connected hotel room television, or a mobile phone.

The offer is available only to New York City subscribers who opt for the $99-a-month Wideband Internet service. If they buy a Slingbox, Time Warner Cable will rebate the $300 purchase price. The Wideband 50 is a DOCSIS 3.0 product that offers up to 50 Mbps download speeds and 5 MBps up.

The whole situation is a far cry from when Slingbox debuted to the ominous grumblings of content providers like HBO and Major League Baseball, who in 2006-2007 seemed poised to file lawsuits over placeshifting. But Time Warner Cable is not a content provider, and it wants to encourage customers to sign up for broadband subscriptions and the guaranteed monthly revenue that represents.

It also touches upon issues currently being argued in courts of law. In March, Viacom accused Time Warner Cable of engaging in unlicensed distribution when it released an iPad app. Time Warner Cable contends that its existing carriage contracts cover all of a subscriber’s screens.

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