Update: HBO told Engadget that HBO Now still stay on 2nd and 3rd-Gen Apple TVs until May 15th. HBO Go will be available for a few additional months, but HBO did not give a precise date of when those users will lose access. HBO made this decision to “provide impacted users more time to make any necessary updates.” Original story below.
HBO announced this morning that as of April 30 its HBO GO and HBO NOW streaming apps will no longer be available on 2nd and 3rd-Gen Apple TVs, because it wants to “provide the best streaming experience” moving forward. (That likely just means HBO no longer wants to provide software updates for older hardware.) So, if you have an older Apple TV and need to find a new way to stream HBO, your best bet is to use a gaming console, AirPlay, Chromecast, or connect your computer to your TV the old-fashioned way with an HDMI cable.
HBO GO and HBO NOW are only the latest apps to disappear from smart TV devices. Netflix removed its app from certain Roku devices, including older Samsung and Vizio TVs, back in December 2019, citing “technical limitations.” (Thankfully, TCL Roku TVs were spared.) Again, if this sounds like an issue of continuing to provide software updates to older hardware, you’d be right. Amazon removed its Twitch app from all Roku devices back in November 2017, too.
YouTube is also having trouble working on third-generation Apple TVs. Apple TV users have been reporting issues getting the app to work since last month. It may just be broken. On the YouTube support page, Google officially lists support for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-gen Apple TVs, but the YouTube app is available only for 4th and 5th-gen. If Google removed 3rd-gen support and those users had downloaded the app from the App Store, that could be why they can no longer access YouTube from their 3rd-gen devices.
It’s one thing to play technological catch-up and stop supporting devices that are nearly 10 years old, as is the case with 2nd and 3rd-gen Apple TVs, but as we said yesterday, you’re probably better off getting a set-top box instead of an actual smart TV. Planned obsolesce isn’t cheap for consumers, especially when it comes to some smart TVs. And yet, like in the case of Twitch, some companies just decide to end support for an app on a specific streaming device because they want to promote their own streaming devices. You’re taking a chance either way, but at least you’ll be spending a lot less money on a set-top box.