Apple TV owners have had very limited options for streaming content beyond iTunes and a handful of third party sources -- at least without recurring to jailbreaking and other hacks. But today the small set-top box is getting a couple of major additions to its lineup: HBO Go and WatchESPN. The services will be available to users of the second and third generation Apple TV after downloading an update being pushed out today.
The addition of HBO Go to the Apple TV was first hinted at by Bloomberg earlier this year and came a step closer to reality when the service’s iPhone and iPad apps finally gained AirPlay support back in April. Now, however, HBO subscribers can get unlimited access to the network’s catalog without that extra step.
WatchESPN also requires a separate cable subscription (with certain cable providers only) and includes live streaming of five ESPN networks, as well as on-demand video highlights and news clips from ESPN.com.
Apple also added three smaller content providers: Sky News, Crunchyroll and Quello. Sky News will offer around-the-clock access to live news for users in the US, UK, and Ireland, while Anime-focused Crunchyroll and concert-focused Quello are both available worldwide. They all join Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr as dedicated Apple TV channels, as well as current sport offerings for the MLB, NBA and NHL.
Aside from announcing the new channels, Apple also took the opportunity to share some stats on content sold directly through iTunes. According to the firm, its users have managed to purchase content from its digital store at a rate of over 800,000 TV shows per day, with over 1 billion total to date, and over 350,000 movies per day for a total of 380 million. No wonder they aren’t in a hurry to get every provider under the sun into their set-top box.