I put the awesome HBO GO app on the family's iPad yesterday and tried to Airplay into our family room TV. I got audio on the TV but not video. I thought I was doing something wrong. So I rebooted everything and tried again. Same thing.

So I did a web search on the topic to see what was going on. Turns out HBO GO has disabled the video on Airplay but not the audio. That's right. They disabled the video but include an Airplay button in the app.

What kind of decision is that? If you don't want folks Airplaying the video from the iPad to the TV, don't put an Airplay button in your app. I can't imagine who would want to airplay the audio but not the video. That's messed up.

In truth, the whole thing is messed up. HBO GO requires a cable account to use the service. I have a cable set top box connected to the TV I tried to Airplay to. I just prefer the navigation on the HBO GO app and its way easier to use than the set top box. Allowing me to Airplay HBO GO from my iPad to my TV isn't going to make me cancel my cable subscription because I can't get HBO GO without one.

So they break the product instead. It's nuts. But I see big media doing this kind of thing all the time. And I just don't get it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    TV Everywhere, except where you want it.

    1. fredwilson


    2. William Mougayar

      That industry is so ready for disruption from a users point of view.

      1. JimHirshfield

        When we use the term “disruption” in entrepreneurship, it’s comprised of two stages: the breaking down of old methods and the building up of new ones.Innovator’s dilemma: These stages aren’t performed by the same party. And in this case, HBO is the old method actor (no pun intended). Hard to disrupt yourself.Also hard to institute the new method if the old method actor is litigating you six ways to Sunday.

    3. brian trautschold

      The last Steve Jobs chapter…How much hope have we put in Apple to solve this? to “break” the cable companies the way Jobs did the record labels…For us “users” of course it makes sense…I’d love to pay by season/ yearly/ per episode for a ton great shows – sync them to iCloud – and watch seamlessly on all my screens. Airplay from my iPad to my Apple TV. It makes too much sense for users to become reality.But of course – imagine how much money cable companies would lose when between my wife and I we only watch 3-5 shows consistently + sporting events.

    4. kirklove

      That’s kind of malarky in this particular case. He wants to watch it on his TV. He can do that just fine. He simply prefers a different interface/UX.I agree it’s silly he can’t and I definitely wish I could, but let’s not confuse the issue that he can’t watch it on the device he wants, he can.

  2. awaldstein

    Fred…You get it fine. Big media doesn’t!We love our programs, but we are learning to hate the companies that make them.Media companies. Cable companies. Telephone and Internet. Fractured brands all with no market love. As soon as we can do without then, we will.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Trying to keep clients hostage doesn’t work. Never. All media companies will pay the hate they are seeding.

      1. awaldstein

        For a while I did a lot of consulting and blogging on ‘social tv’ and got close to this and close to some execs within the media.Really smart people, making immense profits and in general, can’t make a leap for the future cause the money now is too good.Maybe not so smart people. You are right and their demise is inevitable. Not clear that this is not going to be a very long lingering process with real change happening from the the bottom up.

        1. falicon

          As long as they hold the keys to developing quality content, they can make it as painful to consume as they want…once consumers have an option ‘close enough’ in what they view as quality/entertainment, it will drastically change.

          1. awaldstein

            They hold the key to making money actually.That key seems like in today’s world should be broken.Truth be told. Great content that can grab the hearts of 10s of millions is really rare and not crowdsourceable. As yet!

          2. falicon

            buzzfeed identifies and promotes that type of content all the time (and sadly, turns out it’s often very low quality).I think the success of many past efforts were not actually as much tied to quality as they were to commonality…we were all at the same place, at the same time, with the same limited number of options…(which interestingly enough, forced us to develop a community and lift the perception of ‘quality’ across the board).I would argue that the current media giants actually don’t hold the keys to making money around this stuff anymore…they lost it awhile ago, but still control the cells…they are just hoping whomever found the keys doesn’t come around and open those cells up (but most know they eventually will)…and in the meantime, they are trying to act like they’ve still got the keys safely locked away and the prison remains completely under control…

          3. awaldstein

            You may need to meet me at 10 Bells one of these late afternoons and talk about this. This is a 1.5 not a 750ml discussion.Commonality and creativity are stepping stones from each other. Those steps don’t help me personally think this through. If not quality (and financing) and the filters are there to find it, we would. We just aren’t.I’m with you all the way on cracking the plates of control from the ground up and you know that cause you know me. But, the funnel for quality (or comonality!) spires up to the networks where the marketing, the reach and the money live.There are exceptions. There will be more. But I don’t think that denying that helps us break it. We don’t fund or build or market something because the plates are cracking. We do this cause they can be cracked. That’s more powerful to me.

          4. kirklove

            And where will that come from? It’s happening in publishing, but the bar to entry is incredibly low there. TV/Movies, etc is very hard to produce and very costly and few do it well. Independent tv and movie production is still a long, long way off.

          5. falicon

            I agree…which is why the status-quo has some time to continue to rake in the profits and frustrate the consumers.Eventually production costs and efforts will drop (as they did in the music industry)…the writers are already there…the distribution is already there…much of the talent is already there…not sure how much longer before the majority of producers, directors, and editors get there…and then the real battle-royal can begin! 😉

          6. kirklove

            I hope you’re right.One side effect: Making money in music has dropped precipitously as a result. Eliminating scarcity diluted profit. The same thing would happen in media and TV/Film people like their money even more so than musicians. 😉

          7. falicon

            I think it depends on what you mean by ‘making money in music’…most musicians always struggled to make money in music…I don’t think that has changed much.However, it’s near impossible to be in the middle and make money now…that has certainly changed…but I think that’s probably a good thing.

          8. awaldstein

            Bingo.Do you or anyone think that the scarcity of broad-based episodic TV is going away?Video/movies/TV is the most complex form, and I think the most powerful form of storytelling it is.

          9. ShanaC

            I would suggest this is one of the reasons web series are primarily shorter than their full length tv breathren – but it also makes it harder to tell a strong story.

        2. Fernando Gutierrez

          Yes, with so much money at stake is difficult to make blunt decissions. Long and painful sounds plausible to me.

    2. FormerAppleFan

      I’m surprised such an obviously broken app made it past the apple store approval process. I’d complain directly to Apple for distributing broken products.

  3. Rohit Mishra

    Not offering HBO GO as a standalone service may have some rationale, but not allowing users to Airplay the iPad app doesn’t make any sense. I hope someone in the comment below comes up with some logic to explain why HBO does this.

    1. kirklove

      One reason is if I cold Airplay my HBO GO through Airplay, effectively I could give out my login info and someone else could, too, circumventing the subscription model. Not saying I agree, but there is one financial reason.

      1. Rohit Mishra

        That makes some sense. Still, they can probably restrict usage to only one device per account. This is paranoid behavior.

        1. kirklove

          Indeed. Absurd. It’s an old (yet still very profitable) model desperately fighting against change. Eventually they will have to do it. When the money tips that way.

  4. chrisdorr

    The media companies fear Airplay (and any technology like it) because it makes it easy to move content from screen to screen with ease. They want to exactly determine what screen you access their content. They are not interested in the new consumer behaviors created by any new technology except as they can incorporate it into their legacy system of control. It is a farce pretending to be a rational business model.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. But we love their content and happily pay for it. But then when they break the user experience it is so frustrating.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        When you put international into the equation it goes from frustrating to nuts.

        1. fredwilson

          So true

      2. baba12

        But at the same time you the user are weak in not having the ability to resist and boycott their services. We as a society have lost our ability to collectively boycott services and hurt business where it counts most. We are just sheep that accept it and bitch about it on blog posts.

  5. William Mougayar

    They think they can be half-pregnant, pretending to be cool and adding these “new” features without the full experience. They are so afraid to new media and think they can fool users.Recently in the CTV Olympics mobile App, you could only play video on wi-fi, not 3G. Hello, have you heard what mobile means.

    1. Trish Fontanilla

      Do you think that it’s a precautionary thing though? Because the video won’t show up well on 3G (spotty, lotsa stop and start) + streaming would be a hefty cost on people’s data plans?

      1. William Mougayar

        I watch videos and stream music all the time on 3G. The data plans thing is a user problem. They could add a warning but not restrict it.

        1. awaldstein

          You are falling prey to logic my friend.

          1. William Mougayar

            OK. I will go read this instead:”What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day”…

          2. awaldstein

            ‘choose your frog wisely’ is good advice!

        2. Trish Fontanilla

          I feel like they’d rather customer complaints about the app because of lack of features rather than do customer support to guide people through it. Could’ve defaulted to wifi and then let the user move to 3G after they click through a warning prompt. People will still blame the app if they have crappy connections though.

          1. William Mougayar

            Exactly. It’s a cope out.

  6. kidmercury

    innovator’s dilemma. everyone does it, even though everyone knows it’s stupid. perhaps kinda like voting in the two party system in the US. i think most people, deep down when no one is looking, understand it is not really going to create meaningful change to vote red or blue. but they don’t know what else to do and they’re too afraid of change so they persist. innovator’s dilemma, voter’s dilemma, afraid-of-change dilemma. it finds almost everyone at one point or another, unfortunately. but some times the only way to learn is to do stupid stuff and have it blow up in your face.

  7. Ricardo Diz

    I really don’t understand some decisions media operators take… Your experience is an example of this.Overall, I assume they’re trying to defend their client base and revenue per user (e.g., by not making a standalone service). Still, they obviously risk being left out of the digital market…On my case, I already rent movies for the convenience of watching the latest ones when/where I feel urge to (e.g., on the go or at home), I sometimes subscribe to online services for events or sports I follow (e.g., for MotoGP races), etc. By doing this, sometimes my monthly costs might be higher that a regular cable subscription, most times they are lower. Either way, I have low fixed costs, which is something I appreciate.Also, I believe one of the benefits of having an internet video streaming subscription for an event is the additional information and statistics that might be available, which I love (e.g., MotoGP live timing with lap section times, …).Oh well, just don’t take the internet away from me! 🙂

  8. falicon

    I feel your pain…though the sadistic dev. part of me did have to chuckle a little at your reaction to them having the button but not the feature…sadly that is pretty common across a lot of software.

    1. fredwilson

      The Button But Not The FeatureThat should have been the title of the post

    2. ShanaC

      the button implies the feature. Design can imply functionality.

  9. Glen Coates

    People always lay into the music industry for “not getting it”, but eventually, between iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora (as well as others), there are now so many legit ways to get music affordably that it’s truly “not worth it to steal”.When will the TV / movie industry cross the same gap? Reading stuff like this reinforces the sense that hopping on a torrent to watch your favorite TV show is still a competitive UX with the legal means of doing the same thing.

    1. Jrod

      Hopefully in the very near future. It is a sad state of customer experience affairs when its far far easier and better quality to go down the “just steal it” route.

  10. Paul Robinson

    In the UK, Sky do exactly the same thing with their Sky Go and Sky Sports apps. Most of us have assumed it’s because they don’t want to kill the extra revenue they’d get from additional set-top boxes in the home, but it still doesn’t explain what the deal is with leaving the audio in there.We expect this kind of nonsense from Sky though – 30% owned by Murdoch, basically owns the sporting rights to everything decent (Premier League, all live cricket, most live F1) – and they have historically shown complete contempt for their users. It’s a dance with a devil you have to make though…

  11. totallychill

    A concession to the cable companies. HBO is told by their distributors that airplay breaks their business model, where the subscriber pays additional for each additional box in the home. So, if you have three tvs, but only one box, then airplay via the app allows you to watch more content on those extra tvs, without ‘paying’ for it. HBO counters with let the user airplay audio at least in case they have a home system with better sound quality than the ipad. Thats one guess at the discussion progression, not that its right.

  12. John Best

    If I were being generous (but still cynical), I would hope its a deliberate ploy to get users to pay to “upgrade” (read: purchase solution wholesale). The dealer giving you the taste to get you hooked.Otherwise it’s just plain crazy.Either way its an opportunity.

  13. baba12

    Mr.Wilson(Fred) states ” I just don’t get it”, I find that an understatement, I would assume having a MBA from Wharton he would understand how the suits in business work. HBO is part of Time Warner and there is a desire to maintain status quo as it pertains to revenues. Suits in most corporations have to find ways to increase revenue without actually creating new products/services.When HBOGo started, it was offered only to HBO channel subscribers and would operate on only a select number of ISP’s. For example if you were a HBO subscriber and Time Warner’s Roadrunner was providing you the broadband connection you could not get HBOGo even though you paid a subscription for HBO. It is never a technical reason for such cock blocking activities, it is the suits who do it to protect their fiefdoms and revenue streams.Banks, Media companies, Energy companies, seasoned technology companies etc all have many suits working for them who have collectively found that they will do only the minimum to sustain things. It is not in their best interest to be open, due to their size they are not likely to be dethroned as long as they sustain this stunted vision. But it works.It also makes folks like me to take up nefarious methods to circumvent their systems.Maybe Mr.Wilson would be able to have a discussion with the suits at Time Warner and they may make a special case just for him.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I don’t get how there aren’t any long-term thinkers in positions of power at these companies. Or they know it’s a sinking ship and don’t care to adapt because they realize can/need to make more money by trying to control and milk the system.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        From my experience in big companies (hardware and telco), some do think long term but they don’t care because they don’t know for certain if they will still be there. Next year bonus, however, is just around the corner.

    2. fredwilson

      i’ve talked to them. it’s like doing business with the japanese. a lot gets lost in the translation.

  14. Matt A. Myers

    It’s always based on some logic related to control.

    1. Mark Essel

      Absolute Media Control, the kind of thing future businesses will smile at in memory.

      1. Matt A. Myers


    2. ShanaC

      Cause content gots to be paid. Media control the way things are now is not going to work.

      1. Confused

        Come again?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Content creation has costs. The way media controls things now is not going to work.

          1. ShanaC

            thank you

          2. Matt A. Myers


          3. ShanaC

            the level of politeness in this community makes me happy. Just need to say so

  15. Andrew Cassell

    I bought a Roku specifically for this purpose. It can also play Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus. It sucks that you have to buy a separate device (when the iPad should be able to do it) but the Roku is very convenient. Also, it might work with the iPad video cable and HDMI connection.

    1. Colin Nederkoorn

      Hey Andrew, the Roku _should_ work except if you have Time Warner Cable. TWC doesn’t want people running the HBO Go app on a Roku, so they lock it down. Im guessing a couple of others do, but they’re the biggest one I’ve heard of.(edit) This is partially wrong. It’s still dependent on the provider but TWC does allow it as of May 2012.

      1. Eric Newman

        It definitely doesn’t work for Comcast. It’s the worst. I’m close to cutting my HBO subscription because I am never around when the shows air live and I don’t want to watch them on my phone or iPad.

        1. Matt

          Your Comcast box should be able to play HBO On Demand episodes. Comcast does suck, though.

      2. ShanaC

        why does TWC feel the need to do this – TWC is still getting paid if someone has HBO Go. That’s insane.

  16. Jason Tennyson

    Fred I completely agree. This is yet another classic example of Big Media slowly dipping their toes into the waters of “cutting edge” technology (in this case authenticated TV Everywhere service) and failing to make a fully usable consumer service. I also fully agree that the airplay tease hurts their cause greatly.

  17. jonathan hegranes

    I’m probably a fringe use case, but i watch HBO Go on my ipad and stream audio to my jambox…

    1. fredwilson

      wow. i stand corrected.

      1. jonathan hegranes

        well, i don’t have a TV — hence the ipad. and i don’t have a stereo — hence the jambox.if i did, would definitely feel your pain.i doubt that HBO is designing their products for minimalist cord cutters.

  18. JamesHRH

    You have to remember that Big Media’s customer is the Cable Co – not the consumer.

    1. raycote

      Shouldn’t Big Media have enough perspective at this point to be skating to where the puck is going not where it has been and the puck is clearly speeding towards the disinter-mediated end of the rink. Big-Media’s real customers are all clambering for a direct more flexible more profitable relationship with them but they all seem to be scared-blind by the short term transition costs to direct digital delivery?

      1. ShanaC

        No. See: Olympics versus Twitter.

      2. JamesHRH

        It is not a question of skating to where the puck is……..its coming out for the second period and finding out you are now playing Aussie Rules football.I think you will see some incremental changes at the edge of the cable industry – like the Hopper product from Dish Network – but not much else.It would be foolhardy, really, to give up a walled garden of profit to unlock an unknown future. I am not sure you can blame them.Louis CK is the answer – he builds his brand on the cable platform and them turns his back on them. if more stars had his customer orientation – hello, George Clooney et al – you could start a revolution.

    2. fredwilson

      true. sadly.

    3. CJ

      Isn’t the adage, “If you’re not paying you’re the product?” Well I’m paying, why the hell can’t I be the customer? I get it but it’s frustrating.

  19. Roger Ellman

    Smells like desperation…

    1. Roger Ellman

      On “their” part, not yours!

    2. ShanaC

      Desperation smells of the rot of something wrong inside of a business model.

  20. tylernol

    I think HBO still has content deals with the cable and satellite providers that preclude them from offering to directly sell to consumers. Why would the middle-men roll over and allow themselves to be cut out? It will not be until HBO realize they can make more money off iTunes and HBO Go subscriptions, but that will not be for a few more years at least. Tech-savvy nerds like us are a bit too far ahead of the general viewing habits. Heck, my mom has HBO Go and did not know how to use it. My sisters and I had to install it on all our devices with her credentials in order to educate her…

  21. JimHirshfield

    “HBO Go”, as in, Go read a good book.

  22. Bill Davenport

    I’m no expert on this but over the summer I heard college kids talking about sharing HBO Go accounts so I suspect HBO hasn’t put in the right protections yet for account sharing. For Netflix you go through a device activation process so they know how many devices are on an account and can monitor usage that way. Not sure HBO has those protections as yet so I can see them not wanting to offer Airplay up until they have those protections. But it is lame to have it there half baked, it should be out until it can be fully supported.

  23. Nathan Lew

    If you have Mountain Lion installed on your mac, you can log into HBO Go via the web and mirror your computer to your TV.

    1. Colin Nederkoorn

      I’ve found the audio gets a little out of sync with a 2011 MB Air -> Airport Extreme -> 1080p apple tv. It works, but it’s not a great experience.

      1. Nathan Lew

        Agreed, but I think that is a problem with the Airplay software, not with a policy from HBO. Right?

        1. Colin Nederkoorn

          Oh yeah, seems that way. One thing the iPad seems to do differently is it has video streams buffer and play natively on the Apple TV. Whereas Airplay from your computer sends a separate video feed, and audio feed and those things can get out of sync.

    2. sc

      Unfortunately this does not work on MacBooks older than 2011 running Mountain Lion. Thankfully AirParrot does the job quite well for $10 with the audio.

  24. spektor

    When new technology is controlled by people who do not understand it and therefore do not trust it innovation is always stymied. This is the direct result of the CYA corporate culture of large organizations. No one wants to make a bold decision because the downside always far outweighs the upside, so everyone sits in their cubicles like scared little rabbits while nothing happens.

    1. raycote

      Yup – just poor old fart dinosaur leadership failing the didital-age-transition risk management challenge.

  25. Mark Essel

    financial motivation of a (dying) industry: they want you to be motivated to buy more cable boxes to access their service?

  26. Jan Schultink

    Can you double click the home button on the iPad, then swipe the icons to the left to the Airplay icon, and get Airplay to work via screen mirroring?

    1. sc

      Yes, this works. EDIT: never mind, I was mistaken.Most of the time you will get a partial screen instead of the full HD experience but this mirroring works for most apps.

      1. fredwilson

        hmm. i am going to try that

      2. Jan Schultink

        That’s what I found. But Fred found out that HBO is an app that does not play along…

        1. sc

          Sorry about that – must have misremembered from another app. Just tried it again now that I’m home and you’re exactly right. I see the message: “doesn’t support HDMI output from this device”. Apologies for leading you astray Jan and Fred. More impressive is that they bothered to spend the time crafting a branded error message instead of just letting it work. Count me in as another person enraged at their decision.

          1. fredwilson

            this whole thing is so nutty

          2. Jan Schultink

            Don’t think you led us astray 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      just tried it. got an error message on my TV saying that the HBO GO doesn’t support HDMI output on that device. i was excited to try it but it doesn’t work

      1. Jan Schultink

        OK, at least we tried…

  27. Aviah Laor

    Outside the US you would not have such problems at all. Everything is synced and you get the same output on all devices – none.

  28. jeffz

    Was it really malicious? I recall that most airplay enabled video apps in the earlier days of airplay behaved exactly this way – and that it required updates to code to support video AirPlay, once apple opened it up in iOS 5. Perhaps this is mostly a case of bad coding…

  29. Kaio

    Even Sky does that here in the UK. but it’s even worse – because they charge for the content that they stream to their sports app (the same amount that they do for their satellite subscription)!

  30. howardlindzon

    This blog post is too geeky and now I have a headache and lost my remote.

    1. ShanaC

      there is such thing as too geeky?

    2. fredwilson

      yup. i should have just said, they put the airplay button in but left out the functionality.

  31. charlieok

    I’m not even going to consider signing up for any service that can’t be delivered over any ISP. It’s fine — it really simplifies the decision and I can be very patient about things like this 🙂

  32. John Revay

    “Allowing me to Airplay HBO GO from my iPad to my TV isn’t going to make me cancel my cable subscription because I can’t get HBO GO without one”It may stop you from renting a set top box.I had a similar issue w/ Cablevision – they have a series iOS apps that let you want cablevision on the mobile device….but when you connect the composite cable out from the iPhone to your TV monitor – it says that something to the effect of video out – it is not supported w/ this app.I for one would be happy w/ less set top boxes @ $7/month/unit

  33. takingpitches

    Curious what the AVC community thinks about the following question: would it be good or bad in terms of customer- friendly incentives if cable/satellite video distribution were legally required to be separate from content creation?

    1. takingpitches

      Big Media’s view was expressed humorously, if nothing else, by Ari Emanuel at this year’s D10 conference. I blogged about it back in June:””The powerful Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, the inspiration for the unforgettable Ari Gold of Entourage and brother of Chicago mayor “Rahmbo,” certainly is focused on that highest quality talent, in his entertaining comments at last week’s AllThingsD. His point of view is that only he and the Hollywood infrastructure of agencies, studio, and cable distribution can deliver what he calls “premium content.”The existing infrastructure, funding shows like Game of Thrones and offering them through the existing non-flexible types of distribution such as via bundles of cable programming, is critical for talent who will stick with it. Emanuel also notes that the internet and technology industry are “tubes” that ultimately will recognize that they need the “premium content.”””In short, he thinks the ultimate control that Big Media exercises is the only way that great television gets funded and created, and the internet only produces “cats playing on the couch.” It’s worth listening to to Emanuel to at least understand that POV.My thoughts on why I disagree are in my post which is over here:

    2. fredwilson

      i would be all for that

    3. ShanaC

      I think it would be a lot harder to fund new material on one hand, on the other hand what would get funded would probably be very good.

  34. panterosa,

    This looks like more “starvation economy’ tactics. As if there’s only so much happiness to go around, or money to go around, or video content to be enjoyed (or devices to enjoy it on).I think the starvation economy is small minded, fearful, untrusting, and just plain sucks.

  35. Matt A. Myers

    Sort of related: “Tracking the stuff you can’t use in Canada” via

    1. matthughes

      This makes my Canadian friends’ heads explode.NAFTA isn’t working – that can on the list too.

    2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      very frustrating that you can’t get these services in Canada!!

  36. Bob Corsaro

    I could see cable provider not wanting them to stream video to TV. I could also see wanting to put the audio over my media center audio instead of crappy tablet audio. Annoying, but it makes sense. I’m sure HBO would love to stream to your TV, btw. I’m positive it’s not them blocking that.

  37. AlexHektor

    That particular product decision. Only god knows.The restrictiveness in general:The business model of HBO, cable providers and HBO’s dependency on them. Although it’s hard to believe for “us”, the group of people who prefer to use HBO GO and are willing to pay for it is still too small compared to the mass of “average”/”normal” HBO viewers. Sure, that is hard to believe for “us”, but the average US citizen is always a couple of years behind, technologically, and sadly, that’s still the majority of people.This of course will change. How soon? I predict almost another decade.If you’re further interested in the WHY, I highly recommend those articles:

  38. KatjaSplichal

    Recently I subscribed to “skoobe”, first German eBook flat rate offer so far. At the end of the test run I was told to “buy the book at my trusted bookstore” because the free trail was over. Thank you so much, digital natives at skoobe..

  39. Chuck Reynolds

    Why AirPlay audio if no AirPlay video? To allow you to listen to the video using your JamBox (or other similar device) that sounds much better.

    1. fredwilson

      you would do that?

      1. ShanaC

        for a ken burns documentary, why not?

    2. JohnExley

      I mean I’m with Fred the decision is absurd to block video, but 100% Chuck that is ***exactly*** why I bought a Jambox in the first place: to be able to play videos like “This Week In Venture Capital” way louder.I love watching interviews on YouTube and the #1 thing I cannnnnnnnnot stand is when I can’t hear it super loud so that I can do other stuff around my room, etc., with the video playing. So yeah with you 100% on that.

  40. mike

    it’t their way supporting torrents

    1. fredwilson


  41. dclowd9901

    They do this because most cable providers have an OnDemand service they’d like to sell you. Such an ability to use outside devices would circumvent yet another obsolete cable “technology”.The fact that HBO gives in shows they have no desire to move out of that space. What a bunch of pussies.

  42. Mike Bestvina

    You aren’t the customer. That’s why.

    1. fredwilson


  43. Captain Feathersword

    Now your a pirate!

    1. Reifnir

      grammar fail 🙁

    2. fredwilson

      not yet

  44. Aaron Klein

    You can imagine them all in a conference room overlooking the “HOLLYWOOD” sign.56-year-old exec with massive combover: “Okay, people. We have a reputation to protect. We’re doing a cool new app and it’s almost just too smooth. What could we do to really send the message that we’re big media and we’ll tell YOU when and where you can watch what you buy?”28-year-old lapdog with fauxhawk: “Why don’t we remotely disable AirPlay for the top 50% of our shows based on a rolling four weeks of ratings data?”Combover: “That’s remarkably unimaginative. That would send a message to far too few people. We need to really grab these techies by the balls and tell them who is boss.”Fauxhawk: “Imagine this: we break the video but not the audio. I’ll bet that Fred Wilson jerk will be rebooting his TV and iPad for weeks!”Combover: “Hashtag Screw Cable, my ass.”Fauxhawk: “Uh, sir…you don’t actually say hashtag. You just say screw cable.”Combover: “You’re fired. Kimberly, pay him $6 million in severance and get him out of my sight.”

    1. fredwilson

      you missed your calling Aaron

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I assume by calling you mean that @aaronklein:disqus should have been doing script writing 🙂

      2. Techman


    2. awaldstein

      You should write the movie script Aaron.

      1. Derp

        Screw that, this is a new HBO series in the making.

        1. Aaron Klein

          “Techies by the Balls”…this could have legs.

        2. ShanaC

          I would watch that – everyone tells me to watch newsroom, but I want to see something a little more reflective of now

      2. NoahFect

        No kidding. Is “Klein” a pseudonym for “Sorkin”? I want a piece of this action.In all seriousness, I’ve heard way dumber ideas. The entertainment industry is great at examining everyone’s business in their fictional works…. everyone’s except their own. A miniseries or screenplay that mocked the mentality of modern media moguls might be really fun.

        1. Aidian Holder

          Action! Short lived comedy on FOX staring Jay Mohr as a movie producer. Brilliant satire of Hollywood. Was done in the early 90s, tough to find. The funny part is: Hollywood hasn’t changed a bit 🙂

      3. Matt A. Myers

        And then put it up on Kickstarter to get funding to create the video / film, to show old media how new media will work..

    3. Techman

      If companies really did target @fredwilson:disqus like that, then that would be weird.

  45. matthughes

    I went through a similarly frustrating experience with the DirecTV iPad app the other day.Granted, they didn’t go to the extraordinary conscious effort of aggravating me like HBO did to you.They just did it in blissful ignorance.

  46. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    it is a shame really because HBO does produce great content and I have no problem paying for them. They obviously need to work out their relation with cable providers and look at this with a longterm viewpoint. Perhaps I am too optimistic!!

  47. Katherine Gaffney

    I noticed the same thing. I was initially shocked they put an airplay button, as I would assume the cable company would freak out over something like that and sure enough…I assume this will all change when the boards of the cable companies become filled with individuals of a younger generation that understand that this shift is imminent. In the meantime, I do understand that they dont want to be dumb pipes.

  48. Todd Werelius

    I see this played out in many places. On Hulu you can watch some shows on your computer but not on your TV (via Roku etc.) When you add the channel it says “Web Only”Which is about as stupid as it gets because most of the people that use Hulu are early adopters and can easily get around this with some creativity.The end result is that the virtual wall that the creators insist Hulu build and deploy only results in filtering out the AD revenue that Hulu provides to the content creators.Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  49. Dan Epstein

    Why no video over Airplay is baffling. The best explanation I’ve seen is from the comments, the fear of lost cable box revenue. But it seems silly to think someone would decide not to get a cable box b/c they could Airplay HBO to that screen.The bigger problem IMO is that the content owners are too close to the distributors. Time Warner owns HBO, makes shows, and sells you TV service. Once more content moves to the web, it’ll be more like what we want (when we want, where we want, using the device we want).2 examples of this happening now. Louis CK made and distributed his own stand-up special over his website, rather than ask a cable company to make it and broadcast it for him. If he wanted to, he could make and distribute his TV show the same way. Similarly, the band Phish has started offering Live Webcasts of their concerts. $40 gets you a live video stream of their 3 shows in Boulder this weekend. About half of the current tour will have been streamed live over the web. I’d guess future tours will be streamed in their entirety. They make the content, the web gives them a platform to distribute.

  50. farra

    Having developed these sort of systems before, I can tell you it’s because AirPlay is considered an insecure protocol. It’s too easy to capture the AirPlay stream and thus, in theory, create HD copies of the video. That’s why they don’t do it.

    1. fredwilson


      1. Chris Jagers

        Fred, the CEO of Time Warner had not (until very recently) even heard of AirPlay. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.c… …. This is only incompetence.

        1. William Mougayar

          Has anyone from @HBO chimed in yet? I just saw they have 400K followers on Twitter.

        2. fredwilson


    2. ShanaC

      what? And at what point is secure secure enough for bigmedia co

      1. farra

        There’s no use taking that line of argument to the studios. They have the content, they decide what technologies they’re comfortable with. You can make them more comfortable by throwing large piles of cash at them or by undergoing lengthy technical reviews. Ultimately, it’s their call.

        1. ShanaC

          True. My response was more a shock/surprised at their use of the slippery slope to justify behavior. A little insane

        2. Phil M

          I don’t doubt that the studios are paranoid, but there are much easier ways to pirate content than by intercepting an AirPlay stream. In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone doing that as a means of piracy.

    3. William Mougayar

      Doesn’t encrypted pairing resolve that?

      1. farra

        It’s been a while since I had this conversation, so some bits are fuzzy. I believe the exact issue wasn’t listening in on the wire, but rooting the Phone or the AppleTV or replacing the AppleTV at the other end and getting access to unprotected memory (arguably there are attacks against encrypted HLS that work this way).Regardless, I’ve found that the cryptographic particularities don’t always matter when you’re in discussions with the studios. They have a list of approved DRMs and technologies and you’re either on the list or you’re not. Otherwise, you face at least a 6+ month in depth technical review of the stack.TL;DR: The studios can be somewhat arbitrary in approving or disproving technologies. Last I heard, AirPlay was not approved.

        1. William Mougayar

          Thank you for these insights. This underlines the deep rooted issues that plague us.

  51. laurie kalmanson

    they hate their customers, and it’s mutualnot a good longterm strategy

  52. Max Yoder

    Fred, were you hoping to watch The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, or reruns of Flight of the Conchords?

    1. fredwilson


  53. laurie kalmanson

    related: the new downton abbey series will air in the uk months before its shown in the us, giving fans in the us these optionsinterested fan: watch it on tv in the us months later if you pay for cable and the channel it’s on is includedcommitted fan / fan without cable tv: buy it on itunes days after the us broadcast months laterdevoted fan most likely to pay for it and least likely to wait: find it online within hours of the uk broadcast. note: this is pretty much the opposite of the itunes wait-and-pay-for-it business model herewhy?

    1. Max Yoder

      We are freer from time and space than we’ve ever been, but these execs refuse to recognize the realities of globalization when it’s inconvenient for them.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        exactly this

        1. leigh

          “devoted fan most likely to pay for it and least likely to wait” true dat.

  54. YMFY

    Their time will come. Content creators will hold all the power.

  55. jason wright

    Perhaps you think it’s nuts because you generally assume big media is smart.

  56. Jon Michael Miles

    I worked at a music startup (Napster era) in SF – and I remember thinking all along that “big media’ just fundamentally doesn’t understand technology at all. The music industry’s market cap transfer to Apple is a perfect example of this.Blockbuster didn’t understand it. HBO and it’s parent don’t understand it. And it’s not just media. Its just big bloated companies. Microsoft, Yahoo search blunder, Sony, Nokia, Microsoft phone blunder are examples as well.Digital ‘media’ is just the beginning. Next up on this transformative chopping block is the physical world.MakerBot et al will hand it to many industries includes parts, guns, kitchen utensils, you name it. Materials science is catching up and soon enough we’ll be ordering basic tech online and printing it at home or at a local printing center. And that will just get cheaper and easier with such speed that it will be astonishing.(Fedex, UPS and other shipping companies ground sea and air should take note)

    1. laurie kalmanson

      blockbuster could have converted to streaming, or even mailing little discs in envelopes

      1. Jacob Rideout

        That is part of the problem. Sure they could have – and with their market power at their zenith destroyed any competition. But they didn’t. And companies like this continue to miss the boat on innovation. That is the thesis of the innovators dilema. At this point, I don’t think that big media decision makers completely inept, but that they have a collective agency problem. Each player in the system, must work within the legacy framework to preserve current revenues. If everyone worked to switch models industrywide things could progress, but collective action is damn hard.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          doctor, doctor, it hurts when i do thisso, stop doing it?

        2. leigh

          totally agree.on top of that, they are still making a lot of money. there really isn’t any incentive to change until there is — and then it’s too late (blockbuster)

    2. ShanaC

      No. I really fundamentally disagree with this.There is something brilliant and wonderful about objects made by and with my hands. They have other qualities to them, a lack of perfection maybe. And there will be a drive towards etsy like luxury items for those objects as a result.

  57. Greg Cohn

    This is a great example of something Apple’s developer guidelines should prevent — and that their review process should catch. I wonder if there’s special treatment here.

  58. Andy Anderson III

    I’m totally with you here. Silly that they would add the button but not the full functionality. I have to admit that despite this, I still love the product. My workaround is that I just connect my laptop to my TV via HDMI cable, resulting in the same net effect, only perhaps with a sub-optimal interface.

  59. JohnnyQ

    Its all about control.

  60. Scott

    As long as you have an iPad 2 or newer, you can actually stream anything through AirPlay. It won’t play the video quite as well as a properly working AirPlay button, but it works well enough. The trick is to turn on AirPlay mirroring. Then, whatever is playing on the iPad screen will be mirrored on your TV.

    1. fredwilson

      Cool. I will try that. Thanks

    2. fredwilson

      just tried that. it doesn’t work. got a message on my TV saying the HBO GO app doesn’t support HDMI. see the attached

      1. fredwilson

        for some reason i can’t attach an image right now

      2. Scott

        Does it work if you don’t go full screen? From a quick Google search, it does appear that HBO may block any type of mirroring, unfortunately. Sorry for getting your hopes up. It did work for the PBS app that also lacked an airplay button. If you use Comcast, an option is here:

        1. fredwilson

          I’ve tried everythingIts so damn frustrating

          1. Tyler Hayes

            Is the issue that you can’t screenshot an image or it won’t attach in Disqus (and if so, at what point does it not work and what specifically isn’t working)? Feel free to shoot us an email, happy to lend a hand.

          2. fredwilson

            It wouldn’t attach

          3. Tyler Hayes

            Thanks, sorry about that. I’m not sure if you tried attaching it on an iPad (couldn’t tell from the convo) but if that’s the case note that Mobile Safari doesn’t allow attachments in general. If it wasn’t an iOS device and this is still happening shoot us a step-by-step process to reproduce it and we’ll take a look.

          4. Techman

            At least attaching pics in Android is functional! 🙂

      3. Ryan from GroupTweet

        I initially thought the airplay mirroring feature in the iPad2 was the secret to AppleTV being able to skirt media companies restrictions and enable Airplay functionality in EVERY single app available on iOS.Airplay is certainly a large part of Steve Jobs’ thought that he “finally cracked it.” However, like you I was hugely disappointed when I found out HBO Go and other apps can still block this functionality.Until Apple decides to get tough and impose restrictions that Airplay cannot be disabled/restricted in any way – AppleTV wil remain “a hobby.”The airplay user experience is extremely frustrating – never knowing if its going to work with each specific app. Even worse is when it initially works and then a subsequent app “update” removes or restricts Airplay functionality!

  61. Clay Schossow

    “I just prefer the navigation on the HBO GO app and its way easier to use than the set top box.” — case in point that Apple should be attacking the TV industry in some manner even if it is just w/ a set top box.

  62. pomajp

    i think it’s an apple thing, not an HBO thing…no?airplay audio still provides some value, too. it’s like using the big jambox via bluetooth — improves the audio output while watching on your iPad.anyway — yes, i agree…it sucks, but it’s better than nothing and, i’m pretty sure it’s a restriction imposed by apple not willingly put forth by HBO Go. Can anyone confirm?

  63. vonskippy

    Reason 372 why we gave up TV in 2002 and have NEVER looked back. Life is actually way more fun when you don’t waste it plopped in front of a tv.

  64. smokeybourbon

    “I can’t imagine who would want to airplay the audio but not the video”

    1. Techman

      To annoy you?

  65. Crranky

    To add to the confusion, you can get *way* more content readily available on HBO GO than you can on HBO on Demand. They actually have very little content available with HBO on Demand. WHy? But I love HBO Go. It’s a pretty good product. They are just afraid to drop TV subscription from HBO GO. But look no further than Netflix to see it’s profitable going web only. Come on HBO.

  66. MikeC

    Just use a roku. It works fine.

  67. orson

    1st world problem….meh.Anyhow, should be pointed out that HBO has an incredibly profitable business model that allows (is the result of…) them to produce pretty much the best content on TV. Great content + massive distribution = large $. The problem is what exactly?

  68. Jimmy Jacobson

    Maybe I’m an idealist, but I can’t imagine the developers or product manager that had to write the code and file the tickets to get the AirPlay video out turned off did so without a fight.

  69. Nick Doyle

    They do this because they are using Microsoft PlayReady for DRM and must comply with Microsoft’s “Robustness and Compliance Rules”.

  70. OurielOhayon

    Fred: try mirroring your ipad to your TV. it works perfect with netflix. you get the full video on the TV. i think it would work with HBO GO

    1. fredwilson

      it doesn’t work. something about an HDMI error

      1. OurielOhayon

        Mirroring via AirPlay has nothing to do with hdmi. Did you try with Netflix ? Does that work ? it works for me

        1. fredwilson

          yes, that works. HBO just did something so mirroring won’t work

  71. Phil M

    Fred, you get it. It’s HBO that doesn’t get it.

  72. ibi sum

    Network providers are selling you as a product. The way you use the service, your habits, etc. are all sold as part of contracts with content providers, marketers, the government, and so on. Streaming to a TV is probably disabled because that feature (exclusive access to subscribers TV’s) was probably sold to the copper vendors who laid cable-TV cable, still a line-item on some assets sheet, accounted for somewhere, and so on ..Cable providers, or heck .. even regular terra-based TV broadcasters, who offer ‘Free Apps’ that turn your iPhone into a remote control, are building *two* remote controls.

  73. John Revay

    Here is a hack – if you have comcast am guessing your cable provider at the beach house is cablevision – so you are probably stuck

    1. fredwilson

      directv, for the red zone!

      1. John Revay…Not sure if you have a mac mini at the beachAirParrot will only mirror from a computer.Still sounds like you are SOL w/ the iPad>AppleTV

        1. fredwilson


  74. Shahan

    I started paying for digital music as soon as it became my best option for listening to music. But as Fred often reminds us, TV and movies are still a total nightmare for paying customers who want their media through something other than a cable or movie theater environment. You’re often penalized for trying to pay for stuff.While old media gets its sh*t together, I’m paying for the stuff I download in my own way: decide on a price (movies = $2.99, hour-long shows = $1.99), keep a tally of what we watch each month, and then give the total to charity.Once the official distribution model catches up to how people actually behave, I’ll happily pay for it (but hopefully keep giving money to charity too).

  75. Shyam Subramanyan

    The publishing industry seems to have got it right. I buy a book on Kindle, I can read on any device, my kids and I can read it simultaneously on different devices and we end up buying another book sooner than later. Convenience results in more consumption.

  76. sunstroked

    As a paying customer HBO kills the experience for you (at least on ipad) yet I can use a friend/relatives username and password to access HBOGO without paying for it. #FACEPALM.

  77. Ron Feldman

    I agree Fred, it’s definitely absurd. My only guess at the logic is that many people share their HBO GO logins with others and the cable companies and HBO worry that if those friends could stream via Airplay to TVs, they’d start losing a lot of HBO subscribers. Friends could agree to split an HBO subscription 4 ways, etc….I also think the use case mentioned about streaming the audio to a Jambox is interesting given that the iPad’s speakers are pretty weak.

  78. laurie kalmanson

    related: lcd soundsystem released the documentary of its last show more or less simultaneously in theaters and on itunes. it might or might not come to a theater near me; i’ve already downloaded it.

  79. Natali Morris

    We’ve had this problem in the ABC app as well. You can get around it by choosing the Screen Mirroring option. It’s less good but it works.

    1. fredwilson

      screen mirroring is a good hack for many video apps, but HBO GO has borked that too

  80. Austin Clements

    HBO Nordics is the service we should keep an eye on. We all assume people really are willing to pay as much as netflix per month for HBO, but this will finally answer the question once and for all. Additionally it will shed some light on how cable service providers will respond HBO. They are testing the waters out there, but it will definitely impact what happens over here.

    1. fredwilson

      first time i am hearing of itwhere can i learn more?

        1. fredwilson

          in europe but not in the US?

          1. fredwilson

            good post. it seems HBO is using europe as the testing ground and will come to the US when market conditions allow

  81. Colin Nederkoorn

    Sorry you’re absolutely right. I found this article that says they added support in May 2012.…I probably tried it before that.…TWC should work. Now I’m wondering why I got an error when I tried it. I’ll give it another shot.

  82. Dave W Baldwin

    I may be simplifying too much, but the issue is not the movies. Technically, you could have an inventory and transmit the movie rental (with enough carrier strength). It comes down to series/show which HBO killed with and that poured over to USA and TNT evolving into the (sigh) Real Housewives and the guy shows.I would put money into a company going after production/delivery of shows that can be chosen from the app to carry over to the tele set. I’d say go volume (#shows) at lower overhead rather than throwing all money into that one killer show. Otherwise, the networks that show the reruns are doing just fine.

  83. ShanaC

    if I had the cash, I totally would be in

  84. fredwilson

    i do VC, not private equity. i’d be lost in that world.

  85. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    u mean real estate?

  86. Dave W Baldwin

    That is an important question

  87. Max Yoder

    Technical or not, arbitrariness is in the eye of the beholder.

  88. fredwilson

    that is super helpful. thanks for sharing that

  89. Max Yoder

    I hear you. My point is that arbitrary things are, by definition, devoid of motive.

  90. Max Yoder


  91. John Revay


  92. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    when i read …open, convenient, affordable and profitable … it sounded like a real-estate ad :-).