AppleTV Joins Xbox 360 In Offering WatchESPN


After three years of effectively, if not contractually, providing exclusive ESPN360 ESPN3 WatchESPN set-top box access, the Xbox 360 gains a competitor in the Apple TV ($99) today. Further, as revealed to us at the Cable Show, HBO GO has also made an Apple TV app appearance. However, unlike the Xbox 360 or forthcoming media-centric Xbox One, Apple doesn’t require an annual fee to access compelling online content. And Comcast seems to like Apple a whole lot more than Roku, as they’re permitting HBO GO aTV authentication for their subscribers.

9 thoughts on “AppleTV Joins Xbox 360 In Offering WatchESPN”

  1. this is great news. with their hardware refresh, grid and gimmicky remote, the roku is getting long in the tooth. the hbogo channel looks horrid, the netflix interface is old, its not compelling anymore.

    hopefully this will lead to more channels on the apple tv. now it just needs amazon prime and a real plex channel.

  2. I’ve been pretty happy with my Apple TV since picking one up this winter. I mainly use it for Airplay but I’ll occasionally rent something from iTunes when I’m not in the mood to rent from Amazon or VOD. The Trailers app is also useful for looking for movies I’d like to see.

    Since my circa 2006 Xbox sounds like it’s sporting a jet engine, I’ll happily use the silent Apple TV for my HBO and ESPN streaming.

  3. “And Comcast seems to like Apple a whole lot more than Roku, as they’re permitting HBO GO aTV authentication for their subscribers.”

    That’s kinda bizarre.

  4. Yeah, WTF?

    Why would Comcast allow the HBO Go app on the Apple TV and not on Roku???

    Personally I cancelled my HBO subscription a while back when they wouldn’t support it, in protest of the decision. Is the Roku seen as a Den of Pirates or something? The Apple TV is more locked down? I don’t get it. HBO love to lock their shit down as much as anybody (or more even) and yet they created the Roku app. Why does Comcast care? To use it I have to be paying my cable bill and have an HBO subscription. Apple TV lets me ignore the cable company VOD UI just as much as the Roku does (meaning I miss the up-sell of new movies I can pay for, or other channels I might want to subscribe to). How is this different?

    Is Apple paying Comcast some money that Roku isn’t? Not for HBO Go, that’s free. But maybe the NBC show purchases on iTunes contribute to the decision? Doesn’t Roku have Amazon and so its pretty much the same thing, though I presume Apple sends more money Comcast’s way than Roku/Amazon does.

    Is it just the numbers of STBs? Apparently 13 million Apple TVs have been sold while Roku apparently hit 5 million back in April 2013. Is that the difference?

    Kinda weird.

    That said, I will take advantage of this on my Apple TV.

  5. Charter isn’t listed as allowing HBOGo on Apple TV. It works fine on my Roku.

    Seems bizarre that cable companies would even care. I’d think they’d just blanket authorize everything unless there are Apple/Roku-haters in the companies that insist on being PITAes.

  6. So Comcast is a go on the aTV while continuing to block Roku, (something that astounds both Glenn and I), while Charter is doing the exact reverse.

    What the hell is going on? I’m pretty good at figuring out potential motivations for such maneuvers, but this really does baffle me.

    I think we’re in the Chewbacca defense zone…

  7. Yeah, I’m fully with Chucky and Glenn on this one. Random, unnecessary restrictions. I’m hoping these kinds of things(licensing/distribution deals) start to standardize over the next 3-5 years for streaming, but it also won’t surprise me much if that totally fails to happen. The industry doesn’t seem to realize that fracturing their potential audiences up based on device- or connection- type is self-defeating.

  8. “Yeah, I’m fully with Chucky and Glenn on this one. Random, unnecessary restrictions.”

    I’m not railing on random, unnecessary restrictions here. I’m not even concerned here that Comcast and Charter are making annoying or bad decisions for consumers or themselves.

    I’m just trying to figure out the internal logic behind the decisions made by Comcast and Charter. And I’m failing badly.

  9. Certainly most people don’t care about this. According to some recent survey if I recall, most people aren’t even aware they can access any of their content away from the TV. They know about Hulu and Netflix because they ADVERTISE. Comcast and Time Warner pretty much never mention the whole TV Everywhere thing I don’t think. Unless you read cord cutter blogs or something I assume you’d wouldn’t know about these things at all. Why don’t they advertise it?

    Well probably because they figure it’ll just get them support headaches? And although they care about the issue enough to build it they don’t care enough to tell anybody about it? Kinda weird.

    So from a few whiners like us they get complaints, but probably not that many in context.

    How about this… a) there aren’t that many Roku users, b) you have to add channels to your Roku before they show up, so a lot of Roku users don’t even know there’s an HBO Go app available to them maybe? So its less work for Comcast to ignore the platform. They don’t get that many calls to their support center bitching about this.

    With Apple TV, since the number of channels is still pretty small, the channels are all there in the interface. Once you update to the latest version, which the Apple TV prompts you to do (pretty in your face really), you’ll see HBO Go there. And maybe you’ll click on it. So a) there are more Apple TVs in use, b) more of the Apple TV users will use the HBO Go app, and call Comcast when it doesn’t work.

    I agree this is pretty nebulous. And assumes they call Comcast not HBO.

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