Yesterday as I was getting off a plane, I saw this tweet on my phone and replied to it:

Jason probably tweeted that news at me because of the HBO No Go post from last August in which I expressed my exasperation that I could not airplay the HBO Go content from my iPad to my TV via  AppleTV. So that nuttiness has been addressed by HBO. Nicely done HBO.

But there's more to ask of them. It would be nice if the HBO Go app came pre-installed on connected devices like AppleTV, Roku, Boxee. It would also be nice if HBO Go supported AllShare so Samsung users could have the same thing that Apple users have.

HBO’s Eric Kessler said yesterday at an AllThingsD event that "Our long-term goal for Go is to be on all devices and all platforms." That is exactly right. That's what Netflix has done for years now and that is what HBO needs to do.

Slowly but surely HBO is evolving to being more like Netflix and that's a good thing for its subscribers. Now if we could only subscribe without having to go through a cable company. But we've already talked about that this month and I don't expect that to happen so quickly for all the reasons we discussed in the comments to that post.


Comments (Archived):

  1. John Revay

    It’s nice when things just work!

  2. JimHirshfield

    Wishes on AVC really *do* come true. Let’s make a few more.

    1. fredwilson

      good idea. i wish TC would use disqus instead of livefyre

      1. RichardF


  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Nice! This blog is starting for feel like a grassroot movement to bring change! Good move by HBO and hopefully brings more competition to the online video offering.

    1. fredwilson

      if this blog is a grassroot movement, then i am happy man!

      1. awaldstein

        A movement I don’t know, but it is a place, maybe the only place on the web where open ideas on every side of every topic are the currency of the community. That in itself is a huge deal.

        1. fredwilson

          its very balanced and open minded which is a wonderful quality in a community and a person

          1. laurie kalmanson

            etsy related / hiring women devs — brotastic closeminded people produce worse results than openminded humans who welcome all people based on talents drive and abilities

          2. ShanaC


        2. William Mougayar

          Weird,- why aren’t there too many ‘balanced’ communities like that on the web? There are few of course, but maybe not enough.

          1. awaldstein

            I’ll reiterate the obvious. avc is an anomaly, a wonderful one but a corner case.I have many networks of connections. I can ask questions about the most obscure technical fact, the most arcane detail about a wine, discover who is the photographer behind an Apple ad, but…communities?Very few that aggregate a collection of people with a footprint of interest that allows for this level of exchange.

          2. jason wright

            they shoot anomalies, don’t they?

          3. Cam MacRae

            yeah, but it’s only a two week season.

          4. jason wright

            in the uk they’re now eating them

          5. LE

            Other than HN and occasionally another place or two I don’t really comment anywhere so here is what I attribute it to:1) When you start reading AVC you see everyday a predictable cast of commenters. For me (at the start) it was William Mougayar awaldstein ShanaC @kidmercury and a few others who I can’t think of off the top (or don’t comment anymore..)2) The avatars are reasonable and there is a large % of commenters that use real names (some first and last). It seems serious and in general there is a check on the ratio of goofiness to thoughtfulness.3) There is a reasonable but not overwhelming amount of threads to read. If every day was 400 comments things wouldn’t work as well (see point #1)4) Fred is self deprecating.5) There is @fakegrimlock but that doesn’t seem to make more FG. If there was then #2 wouldn’t be true.6) Any graffiti is quickly covered up. In other words if you allow a “neighborhood” to deteriorate everything goes to hell. I wish I had a better way to describe this but it’s close to what happened with the squeegee men in NYC in the last decade. Keep things on a short leash.7) The posts aren’t @marksuster length. Mark’s posts are great reads of course and he has good things to say. But by the time your done reading them there’s no time left to comment.8) Forks are ok here. If not for the forks I probably wouldn’t be here writing this fork.9) Fred will tend to reply to new commenters so they feel special and some of those turn into regulars. That’s good business. It’s amazing how many other blogs don’t do that. It’s amazing how many newspaper reporters don’t do that or don’t even reply to a thoughtful letter you write to them. I’m not talking about WSJ or NYT reporters (many of those do from my experience.) I’m talking about the writer at the crappy local paper.If you boil it down it’s all about size and ratios. The ratios of good stuff masks any negatives that might pop up from time to time.Add: Oh yeah @jlm obviously at the start was around.Also regulars also do #9 which is important.

          6. ShanaC

            actually 9) is probably the biggest indicator to if someone will stick to a site. Seriously.

          7. jason wright

            9 – retention tactics.

          8. ShanaC

            but of course. I make sure to know those and test those 🙂

          9. LE

            At my Bar Mitzvah (which was so long ago – the movie didn’t have any sound but it was in color) I made a point of personally visiting each table and making contact with the old folks. In my parents crowd you see people wrote the checks at the affair based on what happened at the affair. So that personal touch and “couvid” (respect) was important as an aid in raking in the cash. Back then of course you could pay for a few years of college with Bar Mitzvah money. And they still had full bands/orchestras having a DJ was simply not done. And they always played “New York New York” and gave out the NY Times at the end of the affair (this was in Philly not NY).

          10. William Mougayar

            That’s a great analysis…indeed. Anatomy of AVC commenters.

          11. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Life is sadly so partisan, William. Many people find it reassuring and easier that way.

          12. William Mougayar

            I think partisanship is OK as long as each side doesn’t hurt the other, but rather makes the whole better!

        3. hypermark

          There is an axiom about “smart, strategically aligned + skin in the game” that is often the demarcation point between signal and noise.At AVC, everyone know that Fred is putting his money where his mouth is on these topics, and he’s very transparent when he thinks he’s figured it out, and is still figuring it out.It’s this baseline of “smart, strategically aligned + skin in the game” that is the heartbeat of a very unique and special online community.

      2. ShanaC

        grassroots for what?

        1. laurie kalmanson

          waddaya’ got?

          1. ShanaC

            err, bringing online ads during elections under the purview of the FCC?

        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          It’s (AVC) the CBGB OMFUG of VC and tech/society. A parody/homage t-shirt would be cool, thinking about it…

          1. Anne Libby

            A black AVC concert t? I’m in.

  4. William Mougayar

    “Now if we could only subscribe without having to go through a cable company”Fast-forward a few months from now, a new AVC post will be “Cable Co’s No Go”

    1. pointsnfigures

      What I would like to do is just buy HBO a la carte with no subscription and no cable. Bruce Springsteen’s song 57 Channels and Nothings On comes to mind.

      1. Tom Labus

        isn’t that part of Intel’s new TV a la carte deal?

  5. jason wright

    Charles Dickens would be proud of you.

  6. pointsnfigures

    I just bought a new TV because we are moving. I hadn’t bought one in ten years. I bought AppleTV, but never worked properly-so I will hook up on the new one and see how it all comes together today. This is sort of intimidating. Smart TV, have to hook up all the stereo stuff and AppleTV-not to mention the internet. Tried to go cable boxless but there wasn’t really a way to do it. But, we finally cut the land line cords.

  7. RichardF

    Isn’t hbo on xbox over there? I researched loads of options for a media streaming device and the xbox came out as not only one of the cheapest but also one of the easiest for my wife to use (the most important factor!)

  8. ShanaC

    :/ so what if they release a new app for a new system. Just means they recognize there is a new system at play for non cable dollars.Still need cable. I’d like to not need cable anymore.

    1. bsoist

      Same here. I’m very excited about this development, but would be more excited if I could drop tv service. I mentioned in a previous thread that I only keep it so I can watch HBO and live sports. I do a lot of that watching on iPad and AppleTV, but I need the service anyway.

    2. Anne Libby

      Cut the cord!

      1. ShanaC

        bundling with internet and phone service makes it cheaper to have around. This creates problems for HBO, because if I separate all these things and get better prices, I would love to have just hbo go.Bah, humbug

  9. laurie kalmanson

    and comcast is buying the rest of nbc

  10. William Gadea

    I love this topic!I don’t think the winner in this space will be a subscription-only model. We’ve been through this before. In the early days of cable we were unsure whether subscription+advertising or subscription-only would win. It was the former, with a premium carve-out for subscription only, no-ad services. I think the same thing will happen again, and indeed, there is more reason for it to. The value of targeted ads is greater than the value wide-cast ads.Now let me contradict myself: I don’t think there will be a single winner. This space feels like a duopoly or triopoly. Much of the content will be duplicated, so the differentiators will be original content. Much of the higher side of the market will be able to afford more than one service, so they can access the original content of more than one player. Switching services is easy, so the standing of the 3 or 4 players will be very fluid, depending on the quality of their hits.And now let me contradict myself again: there might be a single winner. That could happen if instead of trying to recreate a cable network, the service became a platform… more like the App store rather than Showtime. Anyone from a Hollywood Producer backed by a big investor to a kid in Williamsburg could upload content, and accept either ad revenue (which could be auctioned a la Adwords) or a fixed fee per viewer to appear on the premium, no-ad subscription channel. This fee could be calculated on a split the proceeds, and the House keeps its cut model. The advantages are obvious; all the risks are off-loaded to partners. This would be true crowd-sourcing, not the fake crowd-sourcing of Amazon Studios (which is just an entertainment studio with more open doors.) If this happened, you might get the eBay effect… buyers want to go where sellers are, and sellers want to go where buyers are.Finally, let me say… selling HBO Go directly to viewers won’t be simple. They would be hastening the demise of their most significant business partners, cable companies, and that is not likely to go smoothly.

  11. reece

    going to be really interesting to see how this plays outHBO and ESPN are linchpins here. such strong content, and revenues, but they’ll have to stomach significant risk in cannibalizing some of their current business for (bigger) future profitswe’ll see…

    1. Ryan from GroupTweet

      Very much agree – HBO and Disney/ESPN will be the engine of change. As a consumer that makes me happy, however I can see how they would be resistant to change.Can anyone point to any good research or analysis of the impact on company profits and the cable industry as a whole if HBO/ESPN went direct to consumer? Its awfully nice for ESPN and regional sports networks to have a huge percentage of non-sports cable subscribers essentially subsidizing their networks.What % of cable subscribers are big enough sports fans that they would pay $10/20/30 month for ESPN/sports a la carte? What is the break even price for ESPN & HBO to go direct to consumers?Personally, I would easily pay $30-40 a month for access to all cable sports channels and then just get the network channels in HD OTA. That would be a fine excuse for me to cut my $100+ cable bill.

  12. DavidPessah

    I’m super pumped that HBO GO now streams through iPhone/iPad, opening up an ever bigger library of media. The one downside – users must leave the app open and on the media they’re watching in order to keep it streaming. The music services I like to stream through Airplay/Apple TV – Spotify, Songza, HypeMachine, etc – all allow users to browse their phone, check email, go on the web, etc while the music plays on regardless.

  13. Vinay Pai

    I couldn’t disagree more about the pre-installed part. There is nothing more obnoxious than buying a device and having it filled with software you don’t need or want. And have to spent time cleaning up. Inevitably, some of the software tends to be poor quality and makes things slow or unstable. It takes seconds to install an app if you want it, so I’d rather devices ship with nothing but the basics.

    1. jason wright

      i would rather have it all installed, and then par it down over time to what i find i really need. discovery is pants

      1. Barry Nolan

        hmmm. crappware?

      2. Cam MacRae

        having to reinstall on your brand new device is also pants. i’ll take clean every day of the week.

        1. jason wright

          the majority of people are not technically proficient. they need help.needing help (in any market) is possibly THE prime circumstance that defines the presence of an entrepreneurial opportunity.

      3. kidmercury

        i have to side with jason in this beef. not because i disagree with the qualms that preinstalled crap is crapware, but because it makes it so easy to get the app in front of users — the majority of whom are not as techsavvy as this crowd — it is a marketer’s dream come true. thus i think it is going to be with us for a while.

        1. jason wright

          you are an entrepreneur – understand the limitations of the market, and serve it.

      4. David Petersen

        I guess that depends if it comes pre-installed with the best software or the software that people have paid the most money to have placed there.

  14. Kosta

    Why do you need another app on the box and than use the clumsy AppleTV remote control to search and navigate through the content? I believe the touch-screen UI offers way better content discovery interface and an overall better UX — just try to type “Game of Thrones Season 3” with the Apple TV remote :)… Plus if they go that road they’ll have to develop and maintain tens of TV/STB apps to cover the main platforms.If I were HBO I’d license something like iMediaShare (full disclosure: it’s my company) and use it to get immediate access to all connected TV screens — Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, AppleTV, Xbox, WD, …

    1. fredwilson

      different strokes for different folks. options are a good thing.

      1. Kosta


  15. Montgomery Kosma

    In my experience (running a movie streaming service), Apple’s still evolving their video technology pretty rapidly. HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) has been much smoother than Flash — customers experience materially better quality and responsiveness on iOS versus Roku or web. My inference is that Apple is working hard at getting the fundamentals right. Unfortunately, they haven’t materially moved from the position that AppleTV is a “toy” — and so, AirPlay support (as well as anything like an App Store for TV) has lagged behind.My hope is that all this means is that Apple is working hard on doing TV “right.” That has to mean making it easier for developers to deliver video streams (and the accoutrements like subtitles and alternate audio tracks) to iOS, including Apple TV in its various future incarnations, in a relatively device-independent manner.

  16. kidmercury

    i don’t really believe in the wide net distribution model in this phase of the internet we’re in, which i’ll refer to as the governance layer. these digital media services do not have the luxury of being just a media service; there needs to be two way communication and P2P communication to some extent. amazon, netflix, and hulu all have this to some extent, even if we don’t primarily think of them that way.anyway, creating a consistent user experience for all community members is something that can be more easily achieved when all community members are on the same standards: same hardware, same OS, same app, etc. so, while i don’t think hbo/netflix should try to restrict where they send their media, i think they should focus on creating value on top of their preferred standards. there are certain features of amazon’s media store that only work if you have an amazon device. so while media is not restricted, the entire experience is better under certain conditions. i believe this will open up new business models, allow platforms to achieve greater lock-in, all while enticing customers with greater value propositions rather than making them feel left out.the end result is someone giving away a free TV when you buy a bunch of media apps/subscriptions. this is why i’m so bullish on amzn here. everyone else should just concede and beg for mercy from lord bezos.

    1. Montgomery Kosma

      You’re on to something interesting, kidmercury.Access to video content is a commodity (or is becoming one rapidly).Device support is a commodity (or is becoming one rapidly).My view has been that what’s required to win is added value, in one of two forms:(a) as you suggest, giveaways (see, e.g., iPhone or XM/Sirius)(b) a rewarding UX that enables discovery and personalization via social & professional curation.Reading between the lines, it seems you’re suggesting that these two factors are linked. I.e., that (a) drives standardization, and standardization helps drive (b).That said, Kindle is a great UX for reading, but discovery/personalization/social is an afterthought. I don’t think Jeff Bezos is on this bus … at least, yet.

    2. Austin Clements

      Agree that distribution is becoming commoditized (where we are now is only the beginning of this trend), but I don’t know that the value added service of a video entertainment platform should be device specific. So much of what people are interested in viewing has little to do with the technology around it.In the long run interactive TV may take off and change how stories are ‘told’, but if I had to place bets I’d say the winners in this next round of digital media are going to be those that create efficiencies in video production, distribution, and consumption. Where I completely agree with you is on Amazon, Bezos is doing all three.

  17. David Petersen

    The home TV experience is pretty underrated. Super high resolution, no bandwidth / streaming / buffering issues. Just a gorgeous picture on a big screen while I relax on my couch. I don’t have to move to watch every HBO show / Movie (i can handle the 2 month wait to avoid the theatre) / Wizards / Redskins game in HD. I empathize with people who don’t want to pay the $150/month and realize the model is a little broken / unfair, but man is the home Direct TV experience great.I would be a lot more upset the reverse of the current situation were the norm: I had access to and every other channel, but only on my computer via my 15 mbps internet, and not on my TV via satellite.Now to get one of these: ..or maybe one of these:

    1. kidmercury

      i reluctantly agree with your point which is why i still have my cable connection in spite of roku, plex, and all the other crap that makes me so close to cutting cable. bandwidth just isn’t good enough and the interface isn’t where it needs to be either. but everyone knows intuitively tv is a scam in a way, a very controlled marketplace in which customer desire is not the driving force. that is the big edge the internet has.

  18. Dean Cassidy

    Oy yeah, the more competition the better! Bring on the quality now!

  19. thinkdisruptive

    I think that HBO continuing to kowtow to the cable + satellite providers is going to hurt them in the long term, and is already brand-damaging now (and costing them a lot of subscribers). It’s nice that you can get HBO through Apple TV if you already have a cable subscription, but that is a ridiculously small step forward.We cut the cable/satellite cord a year and a half ago, and that was probably a year or two more of service than we should have allowed them. We don’t watch enough tv to pay $100/month for it, and we can wait a short while to see it on Netflix (more conveniently and all at once if we like). Local programming comes in more clearly and at higher resolution than it did over satellite (no signal compression/decompression to blur the original crisp picture), and our internet service (while not perfect) is sufficiently large bandwidth (50mbps) that the HD picture is almost always better than what we saw on satellite. And, we don’t lose Netflix service in severe weather, which was always a problem with satellite.The only thing my wife misses is one show we used to get on HBO. That isn’t worth continuing a cable/satellite subscription for, but we’d happily pay for just HBO as an add-on to Netflix at a fair price. There are millions more like us — people that HBO can’t reach because they won’t bypass the high rent-seeking monopolists.I think if sports and HBO programming could be reasonably packaged and priced outside of cable networks, the networks would quickly drop their prices or die. The longer they refuse to get in the modern world, the more painful it will be when they have no choice but to change. This isn’t a lot different from the music industry resisting legal sale of mp3’s for years. In the end, they were the ones who were hurt the most and lost control of distribution, pricing and most marketing. It’s great that HBO wants to support their business partners, but they are part of an obsolete business model. What about supporting your customers (and wannabe customers)?

  20. leigh

    The move that is happening in Canada is stand alone media channel apps that are integrated into Cable/Satellite providers through subscription authentication. We are working on a project as we speak exactly in this space.I think there’s benefits to all the various different models and am actually excited to see people experimenting with what works.Speaking of which — anyone see ?? They are a social data company that ties into the APIs of Facebook and soon to be Twitter — what i found MOST interesting is that they are owned by the Washington Post.

    1. ShanaC

      I’ve heard of social code, but I am not sure why that data model is THE data model.Seems that people keep trying