Discerning TV viewers take note: Apple just flipped a switch and turned on HD availability for many HBO television shows in the iTunes Store. (via MacRumors) Customers in the U.S. and Canada can now purchase HD episodes and seasons of many HBO series, including Eastbound & Down, Rome, Entourage (later seasons) and Big Love.
While not all shows have received the HD treatment (The Wire and Treme are still SD-only, for instance, along with older seasons of long-running shows), it’s a good start. Pricing varies, but per-episode costs for HD shows is either $2.99 or $3.99 depending on the title. Seasons are priced accordingly, so a full nine-episode season of Big Love, which is priced at $2.99 per episode, runs $26.91.
HD on the iTunes Store means 720p resolution, and the purchases are then available for playback on your computer, your iPad and over AirPlay to your Apple TV. Of course, HBO Go offers free high-definition streaming of HBO shows, so long as you have an active subscription to the network on one of its participating cable or satellite providers. But the HBO Go iOS app doesn’t support AirPlay streaming, and it requires an active connection to work.
It’s nice to see Apple’s available library of HD content expand with the addition of a number of quality titles. But at the same time, the pricing model still seems broken when measured against more affordable all-you-can-eat streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Do you plan on taking advantage of the new HBO content, or are you still holding out for a change in Apple’s approach to digital video sales?