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Peter Kafka

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Apple TV Gets a Bit Bigger, With HBO and ESPN Apps (For Most, but Not All of You)

GameOfThrones1Apple’s TV hobby just got a bit bigger: Apple has added five new content providers to its sort-of set-top box, notably Time Warner’s HBO Go and Disney’s WatchESPN. Also available as of today: Satellite TV service Sky News, anime subscription service Crunchyroll and concert subscription service Qello.

Apple TV owners who have access to HBO and/or ESPN have already been able to stream video from those companies’ apps to their sets, via AirPlay. But direct access via a dedicated app should be a plus.

Of course, as with all things related to TV and the Internet, there is a bit of fine print that will trip up some pay-TV subscribers. For now, the HBO Go app won’t be available to DirecTV or Charter subscribers, and the ESPN app won’t be available to Dish or DirecTV subs. Chalk that up to the fact that “TV Everywhere” still isn’t, because of legal/biz dev/technical issues that take way too long to sort out.

(Update: That was fast. A day after its original announcement, HBO says it has reached a deal with DirecTV, so the satellite-TV service’s subscribers will be able to use the HBO Go app on Apple TV.)

The new apps mean there are now 14 outside developers/services providing video for Apple TV, which is a big improvement over a few years ago, when the box was primarily a Netflix + iTunes provider. But it’s a far cry from the open platform that rival Roku offers.

And there’s still no sense that Apple is in a hurry to change that.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work