As announced earlier, the HBO Now app has been removed from the home screens of older Apple TVs (2nd- and 3rd-gen models) this weekend as HBO has ended support for the devices. The company will also be removing the HBO Go app soon.
HBO Now is still available on the newer Apple TV models, and other platforms like Amazon Fire TV and Roku. The upcoming HBO Max streaming service, which launches at the end of May, will also only be available on the fourth-gen and later Apple TV.
Originally, HBO said that it would stop supporting older Apple TVs at the end of April. Following some backlash, the company extended the deadline by two weeks (May 15). That date has now passed and HBO Now is no longer available on the platform.
HBO makes the argument that the 2nd and 3rd-gen Apple TVs are outdated devices. It is true that the 3rd-gen Apple TV was first released in 2012, more than eight years ago. However, the reality is people do not upgrade their set-top boxes as frequently as other consumer products like computers or phones, so many of these older Apple TV boxes are still in use.
The 3rd-gen Apple TV was sold by Apple until 2015 for as low as $69, which meant it proved pretty popular. The new tvOS Apple TVs start at $149, a hefty price jump. There are also many rumors about an Apple TV hardware refresh coming later this year, so it isn’t a great time to invest in a purchase.
If you are stuck, your best bet for new hardware at the moment is probably the Amazon Fire TV Stick, where you can download the HBO Now app.
One other stopgap solution exists if you own the third-generation Apple TV. Although the dedicated HBO Now app has been removed, you can still subscribe to HBO Now through Apple TV Channels. This means you can access the same HBO shows through the Apple TV app, and subscribing to the HBO channel through that. This may tide you over.
However, this will not be the last deprecation of the third-gen Apple TV. Users have already seen that the UFC app has been discontinued for that model, and there is no hope of newer services like Disney+ being supported either.
Even for the HBO workaround, it remains unclear whether the Apple TV Channel will be upgraded to the full catalog of HBO Max when the service debuts on May 27. HBO has announced that it will have HBO Max apps available for the (4th-gen and later) Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. It has also promised integration with the TV app but is yet to confirm whether the Channel will feature all HBO Max content or if users will still need to be redirected to the standalone HBO Max application.
It is a shame that the modern Apple TV line of hardware is so alienating. Apple offers a premium set-top box with hardware to play rich 3D games, when most people just want a simple streaming stick that integrates with all their video apps, music subscriptions, and iCloud Photos library.
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