The Apple TV received a major update recently that brough ESPN, HBO Go and more to the box. After its release Wednesday, HBO’s chief technology officer, Otto Berkes, shed some light on why it took so long for HBO to get its content on the Apple TV.
Berkes states one of the main reasons it took so long because it was HBO’s first time entirely creating an app with their software and design staff. Usually HBO teams up with third parties to help create and release the applications.
Nothing is more time consuming than writing all the code involved and encoding HBO’s massive video library, said Otto Berkes, HBO’s chief technology officer, in an exclusive interview with The Verge. He said “optimizing the compression formula to deliver the high-quality video to the lowest bandwidth” is a massive undertaking.
Getting HBO Go on the Apple TV might have taken longer had HBO not begun to boost the number of engineers working at the company’s new development center in Seattle. Apple TV was the first app that HBO created completely in-house, said Berkes, a former Microsoft executive who started at HBO two years ago. Prior to Apple TV, HBO teamed with third parties on its apps, but “this was 100 percent created by our software and design staff,” Berkes said.
Complicated negotiations with the cable companies is also another hurdle content creators face like HBO face. For instance some cable companies refused to allow HBO or ESPN to provide their content on the Apple TV. DirecTV customers were not allowed to use HBO GO when the software update went live, but the company quickly reversed its policy once users complained.
Charter Communications has refused to authenticate HBO Go for Apple TV. Comcast blocks subscribers from receiving HBO fare on the Roku, according to HBO’s site. Dish won’t authenticate ESPN but it does authenticate HBO Go for the Apple TV as well as many other gadgets. Yesterday morning, when Apple announced it would offer HBO and ESPN, DirecTV wasn’t authenticating the device. By late afternoon, however, the satellite TV provider had reversed itself.
Apple has always referred to the TV as a hobby, but rumors of a full fledged Apple television set have always been thrown around.