HBO’s best production this year may not be a program. I had a few doubts at times with the browser version but HBO Go as an app is everything Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes promised with TV Everywhere and then some. Premium programming that might start to look like it costs too much when it’s locked in a TV looks like a much better deal when it’s available anywhere you are in a way that’s worth watching.
Trying to break some of my usual clicker patterns, the other night I downloaded the iPad version. In a matter of minutes I went from download to authentication through my DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) log in and into the first episode of Treme‘s second season. I stopped a couple of times, opened the app again and was right back in. It’s not magic (sorry, Steve) but it is the kind of elegant solution users expect, especially for premium programs. Because it is SVOD, not linear, it also offers library programming on demand — more than 1,400 titles overall with full seasons of many series.
It’s also not available to everyone. Anyone with a iPhone, iPad or the right Android device can download the app but only people who pay certain cable and satellite operators can log in. (In addition to DirecTV, the list include Charter (NSDQ: CHTR), AT&T (NYSE: T) U-Verse, launch partner Verizon FiOS, Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) Xfinity, Dish, SuddenLink and Cox, ie nearly everyone except Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and Time Warner.)
Last week during Time Warner’s earnings call, Bewkes held open the possibility that it could be offered a la carte. There’s no sign any such plans are in the works and I wouldn’t expect any — other than a possible test down the line — anytime soon. Time Warner and HBO still have a lot to mine from the TV Everywhere concept.
This morning, HBO Co-President Eric Kessler told Streaming Media East 2011 attendees that the new mobile app has been downloaded more than a million times since launch late last month and that the enthusiasm for the app hasn’t abated. No word yet on how they are using it. I’m planning to watch that second episode of Treme.