HBO Takes Issue With Apple Security

Dave Zatz —  October 24, 2011

hbogo-apple

Wondering why you can’t pass HBO Go video from your iPad or iPhone to your HDTV? Josh Arnold did too… and took his query to Twitter where HBO responded:

HBO requires a level of content protection that’s not currently supported by Apple TV.

If you recall, I bought the iPhone HDMI adapter with intentions of streaming HBO GO and came away disappointed. Likewise, even AirPlay Mirroring, from iPhone 2 to Apple TV, is blocked. A couple months back, the logical assumption would have been that HBO prefers folks subscribe to their cable channel and isn’t interested in digitally serving the lean back crowd. Or they were concerned with various content licensing issues. However, after announcing intentions to stream HBO GO via Samsung devices, the Xbox 360, and Roku those theories have been blown. And, now, it looks like we have our answer  — there’s something about the way Apple transmits data via HDMI and/or AirPlay that makes HBO uneasy. But with HBO GO coming to various set-top boxes (that I own) in the near future, it doesn’t much bother me anymore.

11 responses to HBO Takes Issue With Apple Security

  1. Of course, like Hulu Plus, there still exists the possibility that the lean back HBO GO experience may be a subset of content… we shall see.

  2. Dave, While that is certainly possible, if that is to be the case, I would think HBO would have already made that indication. Since they have already made the distinction between between HBO (satellite/cable TV boxes) and HBO GO (mobile devices [including iPad], Xbox, Roku, etc.) I suspect whatever content is currently available to me from HBO GO via my iPad will be available to me via my Xbox or Roku once the service goes live on the boxes; I can’t believe they would further segregate the services (HBO, HBO GO [mobile devices] and HBO GO Lite? for STBs). Just as Hulu Plus and Hulu had been clearly separated and defined, I have to believe so has HBO GO and HBO.

  3. So HBO is worried that someone is going to use an iphone with an HDMI cable, plug it into an HDMI capture card, stream the video in realtime resulting in uncompressed video of about 120 MB/second, or 432 GB for a typical one hour HBO show, and then compress that video back down to a manageable file size before sharing it on P2P sites. This when pretty much every HBO show is already available to pirates in HD within 30 minutes of airing. And to avoid this totally nonsensical hypothetical they will deny paying customers the ability to watch the shows on their TV. Makes sense to me.

  4. These content providers should get their heads out of their butts. People who really want to go through the trouble of pirating their oh-so-precious-content have much easier ways to do it. This is why I think HDCP itself is supremely stupid; pirates wouldn’t go that route anyway, but the industry ends up creating headaches for everybody else.

    Won’t somebody please think of the childr–content? It needs protection! Heavens!

  5. Sure, it might be that. There’s some interesting discussion over on Apple’s discussion forums on how to get HBO Go working over HDMI:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3029888?start=15&tstart=0

    Various people claim to have solutions, others say it doesn’t work for them. Haven’t tried it myself. Seems possible it depends on how HDMI is implemented, whether the cable is plugged into the TV directly, or a receiver, etc…

    Then over at:

    http://leimobile.com/fix-airplay-audio-only-enable-any-html-5-video-over-airplay/

    there’s a nice little bookmarklet hack that supposedly allows you to make any HTML5 video playback both audioo and video via AirPlay rather than just audio…

    On topic… I wonder if there might be another reason for this not working, like a battle of some sort between Apple and HBO. I mean seriously, they’re allowing HBO Go playback on Android devices now…

  6. Dave – This isn’t proof positive, but HBO allows streaming through Chrome on Google TV and all of the content is available there. HBO knows I am accessing the site on my Google TV and they aren’t blocking me or limiting content in any way.

    I got a tweet in reply from HBO saying it was no mistake on their part that Google TV works.

  7. Just another way the content publishers don’t get it. Legitimate customers can’t use the product as intended, and pirates get it working however they’d like. Fantastic. Makes perfect sense.

  8. “Of course, like Hulu Plus, there still exists the possibility that the lean back HBO GO experience may be a subset of content… we shall see.”

    That’s something I’ve definitely been considering.

    It’s worth noting that all the content on HBO Go is currently “windowed” to the end of 2012.

    One reasonable assumption is that HBO Go continues its extreme slow-walk of allowing mainstream lean-back pickup, lets the excitement build through 2012 without actually having too many folks using HBO Go lean-back, and then leaves up just a small subset of its content in 2013 once the floodgates really start to open. (Or charges for old programming a la carte.)

    “Dave, While that is certainly possible, if that is to be the case, I would think HBO would have already made that indication.”

    Au contraire. If I were HBO, I’d use uncertainty to my advantage. HBO Go lean-back with all HBO original programming looks like a real treat. So leaving it up there through 2012 while almost no one can get there via lean-back is good bait. Once excitement has built through the culture, then is the time to implement the switch and start aggressively windowing the content, or charging a la carte, or whatever in order to monetize the back catalog.

    If it’s too good to be true, maybe it ain’t true.

    As always, think about the very name of the HBO IP delivery service, and how that name might relate (or not relate) to lean-back…

  9. I’m less concerned about HBO-own content (as in all their original series) and more concerned about the mainstream movies they also stream – wonder what that licensing encompasses. Then again, maybe they’ll only offer movies they can license for multiple platforms/outputs.

  10. “I’m less concerned about HBO-own content (as in all their original series) and more concerned about the mainstream movies they also stream – wonder what that licensing encompasses.”

    Meh. HBO considered as a bundler of Hollywood movies is no different than Netflix – aka a middleman who can be easily cut out.

    It’s their original programming that sets them apart and gives them the value that makes them a much more powerful player than Netflix. They’re more important as a studio than as a mere bundler.

    (To the credit of HBO’s management, they saw all this coming a long time ago, which is why they invested so aggressively in original content. Domestic abuse concerns aside, Chris Albrecht is the Steve Jobs of premium programming.)

    “Then again, maybe they’ll only offer movies they can license for multiple platforms/outputs.”

    Given the way I’ve been reading the Netflix vs premium cable channel bidding wars for feature film libraries, it all seems to revolve around exclusive licenses for the films during the windowed period.

    The extrapolation I get from there is that when HBO buys the rights to a window for the movies from Studio X, it can distribute those movies during the window through any electronic method it chooses during its exclusive period. Could be wrong about that, however.

    But if my extrapolation is correct, it means the feature film libraries are not what has made HBO slow-walk its lean-back IP delivery service. All back to the original programming.

    (Tangentially, I wonder what the deal is with all the content companies being spun off from the cablecos in the last year or two is all about. AMC, which now seems to be aligned with Netflix, is no longer part of Cablevision. Time-Warner’s HBO is now separate from Time-Warner Cable. Even the aborted Kwixstir/Netflix attempt fits in the model. Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.)

  11. I detect a Buffalo Springfield reference….