Apple Inc is in negotiations to start carrying Time Warner Inc’s HBO Go application on Apple TV by the middle of this year, according to two people familiar with the plans.
Cable and satellite subscribers who pay for HBO will be able to watch 1,700 films and TV shows on Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
Apple TV is a US$99 set-top device that streams content purchased on iTunes and via other online services to consumers’ televisions.
Adding HBO to the lineup of Apple TV services, including Netflix Inc and Hulu Plus, may help the iPhone maker bolster sales of a set-top box that has faced stiff competition from similar video-delivery devices from Roku Inc and Microsoft Corp.
Apple TV would let Time Warner, which already offers HBO Go for Roku and Microsoft’s Xbox, deliver another option to consumers who are increasingly shunning broadcasts in favor of on-demand viewing and streaming video over the Internet.
HBO Go is only available to customers who subscribe to the network through their cable or satellite service, and would be the first app on Apple TV that requires pay-TV authentication. There are currently HBO Go apps for the iPad and iPhone.
Apple sold more than 2 million set-top boxes in the fiscal first quarter, which ended in December last year. Over the two prior fiscal years Apple sold more than 7.8 million.
The device has prompted speculation that Apple will introduce a full-scale television.
“This is an area of intense interest for us,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question about television during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Jan. 23.
“I tend to believe that there’s a lot we can contribute in this space. So we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us,” Cook said.