Mar 25 2013

News - HBO Go "Could Evolve" Into a Broadband Subscription Service

HBO GoHBO has established itself as one of the premier television content creators in the world, and although the company has developed a streaming solution with HBO Go, they have jealously guarded their cable subscription revenue stream by refusing HBO Go to anyone who does not already subscribe to HBO and by refusing to license their content to other streaming services such as Netflix. To date, the only exception to this model has been HBO Nordic in Scandanavia. However, recent comments by HBO CEO Richard Pepler suggests that the company might be starting to court the possibility of potentially offering HBO Go as a standalone service for broadband subscribers. Yes, that is a whole lot hemming and hawing there. HBO finds itself in the unenviable position of trying to leverage HBO Go to gain new subscribers without creating a backlash among cable service providers who count on the draw of HBO to help sell their ever more expensive TV subscription services. The first step in this transition probably won't be the complete untethering that many cord cutters would like to see, but HBO has to start somewhere.

With such a move, HBO could risk stepping on the toes of the cable providers who pay heavy subscription fees for the exclusivity HBO commits to. But then, cable providers and broadband providers are often two arms on the same body (Comcast, Time Warner). If HBO could transfer its subscription fees to broadband bills rather than cable ones, there could be a situation amenable to all parties.

Ars Technica

Sep 15 2012

News - Hulu Plus, MAX Go, and HBO GO for iOS Add Closed Caption Support, Hulu Plus Overhauled for Playstation 3

The big iOS news of the week may have been Apple's iPhone 5 announcement and the opening of the preorder floodgates, but some big names in the streaming media business have been sneaking around releasing updates to their apps. The Hulu Plus, MAX GO, and HBO GO iOS apps have all received updates to offer support for closed captions. That this feature is only just coming to these mobile apps surprises me, even leaving aside the obvious issue of accessibility for the hearing-impaired. For one thing, these companies already deal heavily in closed captioned content, Hulu on their website, and Cinemax and HBO through their cable channels, so the need for support in their apps should not have been a surprise. On top of that, watching streaming media on a mobile device seems far more likely to put one in a noisy situation where one would desire captions to supplement the audio. Hopefully the other mobile platforms will be seeing similar updates soon.

In a move that should please the hard of hearing and anyone trying to watch a video quietly sans-headphones, the Hulu Plus, HBO Go and Max Go apps for iOS devices have all recently been updated with support for closed captions. 



Hulu Plus on PS3

Hulu wasn't devoting all of their attention to their iOS app this week. The Hulu Plus iOS update comes with more than just closed captioning support, but it is not nearly as radical an update as the Playstation 3 got his week. The Hulu Plus app for the Playstation 3 received a significant overhaul that fundamentally changes the browsing interface, slims down and simplifies the playback controls, and offers improvements to search to make accessing results easier. The greater emphasis on artwork certainly helps to make the new interface pretty, as well.

We’ve implemented a tray-style format that allows you to scroll through recommendations based on your viewing history, or check out popular shows and movies, the top 100 clips on Hulu Plus, movie trailers and more. We’ve also included a “Shows You Watch” feature that highlights the content you regularly enjoy, and lets you jump straight to the latest episode.

Playstation Blog

Sep 03 2012

News - HBO Prepping HBO Nordic Streaming Service for October Release


It has been over two years since HBO unveiled HBO Go, a streaming service that makes all of their content available online for free to subscribers of their premium channels. HBO Go has been immensely popular and the company has frequently fielded questions about the possiblity of HBO Go becoming a standalone product. The company has been steadfast in their stance that HBO Go is only intended to be a complementary product, an additional service for their traditional subscribers, and with good reason. A standalone HBO Go would be unlikely to return the margins that they enjoy on their traditional subscription TV contracts, anger their cable and satellite partners, and cannablize their current subscriber base.

However, if you really wanted the standalone equivalent of HBO Go, you could do worse than to make the move to Sweden next month. HBO announced that they were planning on making a move into Scandanavia ealier this month, the same day that Netflix announced that they would be expanding their service into the same region to take on the incumbent Amazon-owned LOVEFiLM, but at the time, HBO was not providing many details about what the freshly dubbed HBO Nordic would look like beyond that it would be multi-platform. This week, HBO announced that HBO Nordic should launch in October and in addition to a 24-hour premium channel offered through local distributors, HBO Nordic's streaming service would be a standalone offering. To further sweeten the pot, HBO Nordic will also stream content from HBO rivals Starz and Showtime  as the companies lack international businesses. While getting HBO, Netflix, and LOVEFiLM all in the same region with the same basic business model should serve to create some amusing fireworks, it is still somewhat disappointing that the only reason Scandanavia is going to get so many choices is because HBO has so little entrenched business interest to protect in the region.

Premium TV channel HBO will launch a Web-only service in Nordic countries that does not require the customer to be signed up with a pay TV service such as cable or satellite.

HBO Nordic, which is a joint venture between Time Warner Inc -owned HBO and Parsifal International, will roll out both a premium TV service and the Web service in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland from mid-October.


Apr 07 2012

News - Comcast Subscribers to Gain Access to HBO Go on Xbox 360

Comcast Likes HBO Go

Last week, Microsoft unveiled three new video apps for the Xbox 360, including the highly anticipated Comcast XFINITY and HBO Go apps. Unfortunately, it turned out that these two particular apps would end up being mutually exclusive installations as the XFINITY app would only work for Comcast subscribers and the HBO Go app would not work for Time Warner and, you guessed it, Comcast subscribers. Some HBO content was available through the XFINITY app, but not nearly as much as HBO makes available directly. Xbox 360-toting Comcast subscribers need not fret however. Comcast and HBO have reached an agreement and Comcast is now stating that it expects to be able to flip the switch for HBO Go on the Xbox 360 early next week. Unfortunately, there is still no word on a similar agreement for Time Warner subscribers. 

Now, according to a post on Comcast's official blog, that's about to change. Starting "early next week," subscribers will be able to access HBO content directly through its app, rather than being limited to what's available through the current Xfinity On Demand service. 

The Verge

Dec 20 2011

News - Cablevision Signs On with HBO Go and MAX Go

Time Warner Cable announced just a few days ago that they were going to start offering HBO Go and MAX Go access to their subscribers. Today, Cablevision announced that they too are going to start offering HBO Go and MAX Go to their subscribers. HBO will undoubtedly continue to pursue deals with the myriad regional and line-lease cable providers around the country, but Cablevision was the last of the major U.S. cable TV providers still holding out on HBO. Time Warner Cable's decision to sign on with HBO most likely played a role in Cablevision's decision given that the two companies vie for the same New England markets, particularly the highly lucrative New York market.


With Time Warner Cable and Cablevision on board, HBO Go is now available on all the major cable and IPTV operators, fulfilling the network’s quest to offer unfettered access to its content. HBO co-president Eric Kessler wrote in a statement that the service will soon be available to 98 percent of the network’s subscribers. 


HBO still has work ahead getting all of the cable companies to open access to HBO Go for over-the-top devices such as the Roku 2 and Xbox 360, and there is no word whether Cablevision will follow Comcast's lead in blocking device access, but this is another step in establishing HBO as a major streaming service that might compete with Amazon or Netflix. Cable companies have been reluctant to sign on with HBO Go because they fear that the streaming service might detract from the value of the cable channel that they depend on for a large part of their revenues, but the symbiotic nature of the HBO/cable TV relationship might ultimately make HBO an unlikely hero for the cable TV providers looking for a way to compete with pure streaming services such as Netflix without raising the ire of antitrust regulators.

Dec 16 2011

News - Time Warner Finally Embraces HBO Go and MAX Go


HBO's streaming service, HBO Go, has been one of the most talked about streaming services of the last couple of years and provides an example of the future of media streaming that other premium networks are looking to emulate, but if you were an HBO subscriber with Time Warner Cable, then you were left out in the cold. It would appear that TWC has had a change of heart as they have inked a deal with HBO that will bring HBO Go and MAX Go to TWC subscribers early next year. Unfortunately, the details of the announcement do not indicate whether TWC subscribers will be access HBO Go and MAX Go on devices such as the Roku. Other cable providers have inexplicably chosen to block HBO Go and MAX Go on devices, forcing users to rely on a browser for access. Hopefully TWC will buck the trend and put pressure on other cable providers to open up their pipes a bit wider.

Well that took interminably long. Time Warner Inc and Time Warner Cable havefinally inked a deal that will bring the much-anticipated streaming service to TWC HBO and Cinemax subscribers within the next month.


Nov 04 2011

News - HBO GO now Available for Roku

Earlier this month Roku and HBO had released news that the HBO Go service was coming to the Roku network streaming platform. Today it is now available. So if you have a Roku device and have access to the HBO Go service give it a Go (pun intended) and leave some feedback and let us know how it goes.

Less than a month after Roku announced HBO GO was headed to their set-top streamers… the service has arrived. And, at first blush, it looks to offer the same level of programming as found on HBO’s mobile apps — both original HBO programming, like Boardwalk Empire, and a selection of full length movies. I’ll dig in a bit deeper over the next few days, breaking down the content and evaluating the picture quality.


Oct 11 2011

News - Roku Announces Purple Roku LT and HBO Go Channel

HBO Go has been on the go lately, hopping on new devices left and right. The latest device to receive HBO Go support is the Roku. Roku announced today that the HBO Go channel should be available to all Roku owners by the end of October, though it still requires a user be a standard HBO subscriber before unlocking its wealth of video goodness. Roku also announced the latest addition to its stable of media streamers, the Roku LT. Priced at only $50, the very purple streamer is definitely an entry-level model. It only streams at 720p and drops the MicroSD card and Bluetooth support, which also means that the Roku LT will not support the Roku motion sensing remote control and thus not be useful with the new game channels. I wouldn't mind seeing a purple Roku that drops the MicroSD and Bluetooth and keeps 1080p and the Ethernet port, but I'm guessing that it wouldn't hit the $50 mark.

Roku LT

No matter which model is selected, starting next month viewers will be able to watch HBO Go streaming content on the Roku family of hardware. Cord cutters that have dropped pay TV entirely still don't have access, but Roku CEO Anthony Wood reports around 80 percent of Roku owners still have cable or satellite, so after adding Epix and being namechecked by Comcast to the FCC and at conferences, it's not surprising to see the TV Everywhere movement trying to co-opt the box for its own ends.

Engadget HD

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