Apple TV Flips on HBO Go, WatchESPN

Apple TV Flips on HBO Go, WatchESPN

In a move that tightens Apple’s relationship with the pay TV industry, the consumer-electronics powerhouse last week said it has added direct access to the HBO Go and WatchESPN TV Everywhere apps to its popular Apple TV video streaming device.

The HBO Go app offers full seasons of original series as well as movies and behind-the-scenes extras, while WatchESPN delivers live streams of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line.

For the first time, ESPN’s app for the device will also deliver “curated” video-on-demand segments and clips from and programs such as E:60 and Outside the Lines to all Apple TV users, not just those who subscribe to video services from an ESPN TV Everywhere affiliate. ESPN is in the process of offering that feature on all other platforms that support WatchESPN, an ESPN spokeswoman said.

Full access to WatchESPN and HBO Go will remain limited to pay TV operators that have TV Everywhere deals in place with those networks and support authentication on the Apple TV. Limitations there shine the spotlight on what’s been a consumer pain point for TV Everywhere — availability gaps.

At press time, all of HBO’s TV Everywhere partners were on board except for Charter Communications, which is not authenticating on Apple TV at this time, an HBO spokeswoman said. DirecTV was not supporting authentication of HBO Go on the Apple TV when the announcement was made last Wednesday (June 19), but confirmed it had extended support to the popular video-streaming device the following morning.

Before gaining direct access, content from HBO Go and WatchESPN could be delivered to Apple TV and other iOS devices using Apple AirPlay, which lets users stream on-demand content to Apple TV boxes over Wi-Fi.

WatchESPN is available to 55 million U.S. homes, ESPN said, thanks in part to affiliations with Time Warner Cable, Bright House, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision Systems, Cox Communications, Charter and AT&T.

Although Comcast and TWC support authentication of both HBO Go and WatchESPN on the Apple TV, those MSOs have yet to launch their own TV Everywhere apps on the device.

Apple last week also announced the addition of Sky News, Crunchyroll (Japanese Anime and Asian media) and Qello (HD concerts and music documentaries) to the Apple TV lineup. Hulu Plus, Netflix, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr are among other Apple TV app partners.