HBO Now and Westworld
I am a huge sci-if junkie. I don't have a lot of time to spend watching TV, but when I do you can bet it will be a good sci-fi series. So I was pretty excited about the new HBO series Westworld when it came out. I kept waiting and waiting for the Season Pass to come out on iTunes but it never did. You see, HBO is doing the same thing with Westworld that CBS is planning on doing with the new Star Trek series...they are making it the carrot that lures you into their service. The only way to watch Westworld is to buy the HBO Now monthly subscription. Ok, so instead of spending $40-$50 one time to buy the season I spend $15 a month and I get a lot of other HBO content along with it. Like I said, I don't have a ton of time to watch TV and movies but I do still get extra value out of the service. I've watched several movies and am catching up on Game of Thrones. I cut the cable many years ago and have been buying nearly all of my content via iTunes and I love it. No commercials and I get to watch what I want when I want to. I sure hope this doesn't become a trend. It only takes a handful of these $15 a month subscriptions before I am paying more per month than with a large cable TV package.
The other thing I wanted to hit on was the HBO Now app itself. Overall the app performs ok, but there are some pretty major flaws in the design. The biggest hole is in how the app handles parental controls. "Handle" is the wrong word here because the app falls flat on its face when it comes to parental controls. HBO has some really good kid content in their service, like the new Peanuts movie and the soon to be released remake of the TV series Fraggle Rock. But as you know, HBO also has some VERY adult content as well. My hope was that I would be able to install and login into the service via the Apple TV app and then hide all the content above a certain maturity rating. And it will do that. But it does it across the entire service. So it also hides all that content on my iPad (which my kids can't get into). So in order for me to get on my iPad every Sunday night and watch Westworld I have to re-enter my password and change the parental control settings system wide and then hope one of my kids doesn't get on the Apple TV while I am in the bedroom watching Westworld. Then when I am done watching Westworld I better remember to log back into the app settings and change the parental controls back. So instead I just don't have the app on the Apple TV. It is only on my iPad. If HBO would just add the ability to temporarily unlock the parental controls with a PIN it would solve the problem. I have no idea why they didn't implement this better. Until they figure out a better way the rest of my family just won't be able to get a lot of use out of the service. The app also doesn't handle saving a movie or TV series to a favorites list very well either. Hopefully HBO works some of these kinks (and gaping holes) out because it would make the service much more usable from a family standpoint and therefore better justify the cost of the service.