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Google Chromecast Lands HBO

With a $35 price point, what gadget gift is easier to pick up this year than the Chromecast streaming stick? To make the little stocking stuffer even more appealing, Google has now added support for HBO Go.

Notably, Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) is the first cable programmer to integrate with Chromecast. The Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) streaming stick also enables users to stream programming from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), YouTube Inc. , Hulu LLC 's Hulu Plus, and other over-the-top (OTT) video services to HDTV sets, as well as tablets, smartphones, and other video devices using the home WiFi network.

Just as with YouTube and Netflix, users can now stream HBO shows to a Chromecast-connected TV directly from the HBO Go app on iOS and Android devices. A supported web app is also available.

The Chromecast stick makes dumb TVs smarter, and it's a lot cheaper than even the smallest flatscreen television set. (See Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run.)

Existing app integrations also prove how easy Chromecast is to operate. With Netflix, for example, a user can select Chromecast for playback from a mobile device, and the streaming stick will automatically turn the connected TV on, switch to the right input, and begin streaming content to the bigger screen.

While Google is the first company to make a splash with an HDMI dongle, it's not the only one investing resources in the streaming-stick form factor. LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) has a similar device targeted at pay-TV providers that's integrated with the Azuki Systems media platform. Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) has also suggested that a streaming stick could be on its set-top roadmap for 2014. (See Azuki, LG Counter Google Chromecast and Arris RDK Boxes Coming Soon.)

Beyond serving existing pay-TV business models, the design and functionality of an HDMI streaming stick could make it the ideal hardware choice for a virtual cable service. Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) has already tested a cloud-based video service in Germany, Greece, and Croatia and plans to start rolling out a commercial offering in the first quarter of next year. While Deutsche Telekom has numerous hardware options to choose from for its upcoming cloud offering, the use of an inexpensive HDMI adapter could make financial and logistical sense for attracting customers to the new TV service. (See Deutsche Telekom Tests Set-Top Virtualization.)

For now, Google is proving how well the streaming stick concept can succeed at retail. With HBO Go added to the list of supported apps, it's a safe bet that Chromecast will figure prominently on plenty of family wish-lists this holiday season.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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Sarah Thomas 11/22/2013 | 10:23:49 AM
<3 Chromecast I love my Chromecast, which I bought even though I have an Internet-connected TV...oh well, it's super-easy to use. It's going to be my stocking stocker of choice this Christmas, too. At $35, I think it will be for a lot of people.
Liz Greenberg 11/22/2013 | 10:36:33 AM
Re: <3 Chromecast I agree Sarah. My sister bought one but didn't realizethat her ancient TV doesn't have an HDMI port...but that shows how compelling both the concept and price point are to the consumer! Thanksgivakuh present anybody?
Sarah Thomas 11/22/2013 | 10:38:43 AM
Re: <3 Chromecast Haha we have people who don't actually need it and people who can't use it buying them! Definitely speaks to the consumer appetite for more OTT TV options.
albreznick 11/22/2013 | 11:37:08 AM
Re: <3 Chromecast Yes, it will be interesting to see what kinds of sales numbers the Chromecast posts for the holiday season. I'm wondering who will follow HBO now that it's become the first cable programmer to break the ice. Any thoughts out there? 
Sarah Thomas 11/22/2013 | 12:39:29 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast I'm hoping Showtime. It'd also be great to get Hulu on there, but probably less likely.
albreznick 11/22/2013 | 2:07:26 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast Well, Hulu Plus is already there, but it's a premim service. I'm placing my bets on either ESPN, Starz or Discovery because they're often the most adventurous cable programmers. But we shall see.   
gconnery 11/22/2013 | 8:07:55 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast Personally I'd like to see Amazon Prime/Instant.  Seems unlikely we'll see it on the Apple TV any time soon, but you'd expect Amazon to support the device given they sell their hardware at cost and tend to focus on content sales for their profits.  With YouTube, Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu Plus the obvious missing pieces would then be Vudu, iTunes (never gonna happen), ESPN/NBA/NFL/MLB, plus the individual channels like ABC, PBS, CBS, Comedy Central etc.  Lots of stuff still needs to be added for a full slate.

Remember that DIAL support won't be limited to the ChromeCast in the future.  It'll be supported by TiVo, by Google TV, not sure what else.  I think the content owners have good reason to support it in general.
MordyK 11/22/2013 | 11:20:08 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast I hope everybody realizes that this is not a standalone HBO product but HBO Go which still requires a cable sunbscription, unless you share the account credentails with friends which i'm sure nobody does...
quicktime 11/23/2013 | 5:14:05 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast No Google Electronics!

No quality, no privacy.
DOShea 11/23/2013 | 10:00:59 PM
Re: <3 Chromecast MordyK, I'm glad you brought up that little reminder about the cable subscription. I like the idea of the dongle in general, and the price is right, but I wonder if a lot of people are buying Chromecast on the idea of what they think it is, rather than what it really is. Having said that, if MLB Network sign on, you can probably count me in.
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