July 8, 2013
We’ve seen a lot of movement on the Apple TV front in recent months, in terms of content added. Much of this is great news, and as I have often said, shows that Apple is getting serious about its often-overlooked hobby product. Still, questions remain. This past weekend, I had the chance to take a look at HBO Go and WatchESPN on the Apple TV. Both services recently arrived on the set-top box. I also took a look at the Time Warner Cable (TWC) application on a Roku device. TWC is expected to arrive on the Apple TV in the coming months. HBO Go and WatchESPN, as concepts, are perfect for the Apple TV. Like the previously released apps for iOS, each offers a plethora of video content. In the case of HBO Go, this means episodes of every series ever produced by the premium outlet, plus a nice selection of movies. WatchESPN, meanwhile, offers plenty of on demand video across numerous sports. It also offers live streaming of ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3. This second point makes little sense, at least on the Apple TV. Streaming live content is a big deal when performed on an iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. It means no longer rushing home to see your favorite TV show in real-time. On the Apple TV, this really isn’t necessary. Sure, it’s possible that the Apple TV is connected to a television that isn’t also hooked up to a home cable system. However, this is probably a rarity, at best. This takes us to TWC. Unlike HBO Go and WatchESPN, TWC, at least on the Roku, only offers live video streaming. More importantly, it does so only when the device is connected to a TWC router. Where is there value in this? Again, on an iPhone or iPad, this makes sense. On the Apple TV, I see no need for it. Apple may have bigger plans for TWC on the Apple TV. Maybe TWC on Apple’s set-top box will include on demand streaming. If so, I can’t wait. However, if Apple’s long-term strategy for the Apple TV is to simply duplicate live content already available to qualified subscribers, I say no thanks. Of course, this could just be the first of a two-part puzzle. Perhaps TWC will come to the Apple TV with only live streaming. However, again perhaps, this functionality will be open to everyone. In other words, even to users that can’t receive Time Warner Cable using traditional means. If this is the case, this would be huge news. As a result, it would set up nicely with Apple’s rumored plans to release an actual television. We attempted to contact Time Warner Cable about its Roku application, and plans for the Apple TV. Our requests have not been answered. As usual, we’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on all of this?