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Level 13

Apple TV+ is the replacement to HBO Go/Now in spirit

AT&T/HBO has decided to let me know they don't want to continue to provide the same level of convenience for the money the get from me.  I now get the following message:

"Supported Device Change: HBO will no longer be available on this device starting July 31, 2020.  Contact HBO Support for additional ways to access HBO."

Some people have called for having patience with AT&T as the work out getting HBO Max onto Roku.  However, this message sets a strict timeline and makes clear AT&T does not see it as important to get things "worked out" by then.  Instead, AT&T points out what other devices I can buy to jump through hoops to watch what I am paying them for.  Even if I do jump through AT&T/HBO suggested device purchases, as pointed out by John Oliver on HBO, the new HBO Max is a complete mess.

Others have pointed out other ways to jump through hoops.  It might be possible to use my cable provider app for Roku which literally has the word "Beta" in the title of the Roku channel.  Just as the title suggests this does not work well and sometimes will suddenly stop in the middle of playback of a movie.

It has been pointed that it might be possible to use Hulu but I have no intention of getting Hulu as a work-around after the extremely poor experience i had with their "support."  It is also not clear how much of a commitment AT&T has with providing HBO through Hulu.  It might be a short term work-around that requires jumping through even more hoops later.

And it has been pointed out that Samsung Smart View or Miracast or Screen Mirror will work.  As far as I can tell, this does not work with all Android phones as most modern devices have MIracast removed.  For those that do still have it, it is stated in Samsung's own documentation that it is not intended to work with DRM protected content.  If it is currently working with HBO Max, it is probably an oversight which will eventually be "resolved" by AT&T/HBO.

So, I dug deeper and determined that HBO Max may not be the future of what I consider to be the spirit of HBO.  I don't get HBO for the movies, I already have Netflix for that.  It is nice the some movies make it to HBO first but really not that big a deal.  Instead, it has been the very high quality HBO exclusive content that made HBO really be HBO for me.  From what I can find, locating the right people to produce that exclusive content had been the job of Richard Plepler who left HBO about a year ago.  As far as I can tell, a lot of the recent HBO exclusive content was from deals that he got started but that is eventually going to run out for HBO.

Instead, the work-around to the HBO "device change" issue and to subscribe to future programming from Richard Plepler might be to subscribe to ... Apple TV?

It might sound like I am making a joke but I really am not.  The CEO of HBO left and is now working for Apple TV+.  This same CEO that got the HBO Go and HBO Now onto Roku and got them as exclusive buttons on some Roku remotes.  It seems to me that Richard Plepler has shown dedication not only to providing high quality content but providing it through Roku.  I doubt this "supported device change" message would have ever come up with him as CEO.

And sure enough, Richard Plepler's Apple TV (the channel, not the devices) does show up as a channel option on Roku.

So, is paying AT&T $15 per month for the mess that is HBO Max (or possibly more depending on the work-around used) really continuing the spirit of what it means to be an HBO subscriber?  Or is it $5 per month for Apple TV with support for Roku really the right move?

Full disclosure, I don't currently get Apple TV+ and don't own any Apple device so I don't get any of the promotional bundles that would have included it.  I am just looking for people's thoughts on things now that AT&T has made it an issue.

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