Apple TV Gets HBO, ESPN

Apple TV will be bringing HBO and ESPN to its set-top box, along with three other content providers to beef up its offerings, Apple announced.

Along with the two apps, HBO Go and WatchESPN, there will also be Sky News, Crunchyroll and Quello. Crunchyroll is an anime and Asian culture video service, Quello shows concerts, and Sky News is a 24-hour news feed. Those users who are already subscribed to HBO and ESPN likely have been streaming video already.

However, the problem is that HBO Go won't be available for DirecTV or Charter subscribers, while the ESPN app also can't be used on Dish or DirectTV. So, for some Apple users, this isn't much of an announcement. If you are lucky enough to be able to use the apps, they are now part of the 14 providers on Apple TV. So far, that doesn't seem like enough content to cut the cord, but Apple doesn't seem concerned with that.

Apple TV, which seems to be a kind of afterthought to Apple's more lucrative iPhone and iPad products, has recently been rumored to be spending a $3.9 billion in component investment to make TVs. Foxconn has even been lobbying to create them, but so far Apple has been quiet on the matter. Could this new lineup be a way to launch the device? Or will Apple likely just work on the box, which is probably easier and cheaper? We're thinking the latter, especially since it doesn't see itself as having competition.

This may change if Google finally strengthens its cable power. Although Google TV has been widely considered a turkey, (although it's fully integrated with Google Play and is selling) it could be Google's broadband experiment, Google Fiber as Apple's biggest rival. Google is working on original content and hopes to place it on paid subscription YouTube channels which can be accessed through Google TV. Some of those channels will be "cable channels with smaller audiences" that will head to the Web and  be available on an "a la carte" basis. Essentially, Google is getting into the $150-million-a-year cable business.

And that's why Apple should be working harder on Apple TV.

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