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Every time HBO Go becomes compatible with a new device, the streaming video feature gets that much more valuable. And it also adds value to the device. In this case, it's Apple TV. Technically, HBO Go users could stream the service through Apple TV through their mobile device and Airplay, but Apple announced today that HBO Go, as well as WatchESPN, are both available directly through Apple TV.
HBO Go is available to most HBO subscribers in the U.S., assuming their cable TV services provides it. The streaming video service is like a combination of HBO on Demand and Netflix, in that it allows HBO subscribers to stream an unlimited amount of HBO content, including movies and HBO original series like Game of Thrones, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire, as well as miniseries, comedy specials and other content offered by the premium cable service. Earlier this year, we learned that Apple TV was now semi-compatible with HBO Go - meaning, users could use the AirPlay feature to stream HBO Go from their computer through their Apple TV and to their TV. It was a bit indirect and - though I can't speak from personal experience as to how well it worked - seemed a bit clunky in its approach, by comparison to the simpler, app-centric way of doing things these days. Months later, Apple has fixed that situation, making HBO Go - as well as WatchESPN, Sky News, Crunchyroll and Qello - compatible directly through Apple TV.
The device with the most compatible streaming video options wins, right? Apple TV just took a step ahead. It allows users to stream purchase iTunes content, as well as access Hulu Plus, Vimeo and Netflix, among other services, including HBO Go, now. The only major service I can think of that's missing is Amazon's rented and purchased Instant Video and Amazon Prime videos, and given that Apple TV and Amazon are competitors when it comes to selling digital versions of TV shows and movies, I'd be surprised if Apple TV became Amazon and/or Amazon Prime compatible. Then again, Amazon does sell Apple TV, so who knows?
I've been on the fence about getting an Apple TV, considering the only feature it offered that I don't have on my Blu-ray player is the ability to stream iTunes content. Part of the reason I purchase TV shows and digital movies through Amazon is because i can stream them through my Blu-ray player and watch them on my TV, which is preferable. But I can't do that with HBO Go, which makes Apple TV look a bit shinier to me today. And the price isn't terrible. It's still a little bit steep, considering it's one more box to fit under the television, albeit a small one. I guess I'm waiting until I absolutely need an Apple TV. I'm not entirely sure HBO Go pushes it over that line, but it gets it much closer.