Users of iPhones, iPods and iPads will no longer be tied to Apple’s smaller screens in order to view HBO Go content. The company announced today at the D:Dive Into Media conference that AirPlay will be enabled on its HBO Go and Max Go apps for iOS, allowing users to stream from their devices straight to an Apple TV. The message came from HBO President & COO Eric Kessler, who added that HBO’s goal is to be available on all devices.
Of course, it would be even more useful if HBO Go had its own Apple TV app so that users could skip the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad middle man and stream content right from Apple’s little black “hobby” box. Kessler did field a question about the Apple TV, saying HBO does intend to get an app onto the device. However, “These things take time.”
Enabling AirPlay for iOS users is still a great move for the consumer, though HBO really had no reason to keep everyone waiting. The company isn’t opposed to letting its customers view its content on TVs outside of the company’s premium cable channel: an HBO Go app is already available for the Xbox 360, after all. So one might wonder if HBO was holding off on AirPlay support so that it had a big announcement to make, or if the company thought it would be able to get an Apple TV app done more quickly.
When it comes down to it, should content companies really care about where or how paying customers consume content? We’ve seen several apps block the AirPlay functionality on iOS devices and it’s never made any sense. Amazon’s Instant Video app, which arrived on the iPad last summer and on the iPhone and iPod touch just a few months ago, does not have the AirPlay feature enabled. Amazon blocks this feature even though there are countless Amazon Instant Video apps available for set-top boxes and game consoles. It’s understandable that Amazon might never try to get an Instant Video app on the Apple TV, but why force users to buy an additional streaming media box to use its service if an iOS device and the AirPlay feature would do the trick?
Kudos to HBO for enabling HBO Go AirPlay. The company may not be ready to eschew its cable roots just yet, but giving its customers additional ways to view HBO and Cinemax content is a great move. I hope that other content providers do the same. You should be able to find the updated HBO Go and Max Go apps in the App Store right now.