Recently there's been a move to bring more online content, including streaming movie services, to our TVs. Now HBO is taking things in the other direction with the launch of two new online streaming services—HBO Go and Max Go—that let some cable and satellite TV subscribers watch HBO and Cinemax programming on their PCs, and ultimately, on mobile devices.
In addition to the launch of HBO Go on Direct TV this week, HBO Go is now available on several cable companies—Comcast (Xfinity), Cox (Advanced TV), and Time Warner Cable—as well as telco TV services from Verizon (FiOS) and AT&T (U-verse). The service is available anywhere there's a broadband connection in the U.S.
To access HBO Go or Max Go, you have to be a TV service customer who also subscribes to HBO or Cinemax. Once you register, you're able to instantly watch movies, original series, documentaries, sporting events, concerts, and other programming from HBO or Cinemax on your PC and Mac computers.
HBO Go currently has about 1,400 titles, while Cinemax offers about 400 shows and movies. HBO Go will include full seasons of past, current, and even upcoming programs, such as the much-anticipated "Game of Thrones."
Users can bookmark content to view at a later time using a "Watch List" feature, and create personalized "Series Pass" events that provide automatic alerts when new episodes of HBO programs arrive. Viewers are also able to pause and rewind programs, just as they would on a DVR.
HBO Go and Max Go are currently limited to PCs and Apple computers. DirectTV says its subscribers will also be able to view the programs on Apple iPhone and iPads, as well as on some Android tablets and phones later in the year, though no specific time frame was given. But in an article about the upcoming "Game of Thrones" series, the Wall Street Journal said that Time Warner will roll out these new applications in May. We expect to hear similar announcements from other TV service providers soon.
We'll be kicking the tires on the HBO Go service in the near future, so check back with our electronics news for an update. And let us know what you think about these services, which are attempts by cable and satellite companies to retain subscribers at a time when more Internet options are becoming available.
—James K. Willcox