Maybe you just bought the new Amazon Fire TV — and just maybe you thought that meant you were getting the most cutting edge technology.
But it’s not so simple.
The $100 streaming video box from Amazon — that is being positioned against the Roku and Apple TV — doesn’t come loaded with every service imaginable, and last night, that was never more clear than during the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Veep, and the highly anticipated debut of the new comedy Silicon Valley.
At least for now, Amazon’s Fire TV does not ship with the HBO Go application, and while that may only be a temporary problem, its absence from the platform highlights today’s problem with watching TV: Consumers are having to navigate a myriad of solutions in order to fine the content they want to watch, and Amazon didn’t solve that.
It’s only going to get worse as technology and media companies figure out that producing original content is the solution to attracting and retaining customers.
This morning, Microsoft’s Xbox division provided new details about its plans for original TV shows on the game console, including a comedy sketch show involving Sarah Silverman and a robot-themed drama called “Humans” to be developed and broadcast in partnership with the UK’s Channel 4. Also this morning, the WSJ reports that Yahoo is acquiring the rights to original programming that is high enough quality for cable TV, but would be available on the Internet.
Amazon is yet a third technology giant that is also producing its own original content, following closely behind Netflix, which has had huge success with House of Cards.
While none of these companies want to be late to the original content party, the problem becomes accentuated for consumers, who are having to buy devices to connect their TVs to the Internet and pay for a handful of services to watch the most popular content of the moment.
As for Amazon’s Fire TV, it’s just the beginning, so it’s entirely possible that it will get the HBO Go application soon, along with others. Some of the apps it does have today include Netflix, Watch ESPN, Showtime, Pandora and Bloomberg TV. Amazon also sells content. For instance, previous seasons of Game of Thrones cost $3.99 an episode or for $39 for the whole season, but season four is not on sale yet.
However, even if the HBO Go app was available last night on the Fire TV, you probably would have been out of luck anyway. The availability of all three shows was enough to crash HBO’s streaming application for hours.
So, for now, all of this complexity may add up to one thing: Cable is still king.