Apple TV (teaser 001)

Apple on Tuesday announced that users can now stream ESPN and HBO to their television through the $99 Apple TV set-top box. Available as a free software update for the second and third-generation Apple TV, the just-released Apple TV software version 5.3 enables the popular iOS apps, WatchESPN and HBO GO, on your Apple TV, as well as an additional three content providers, UK’s Sky News, anime site Crunchyroll and music concert streaming service Qello…

According to Apple’s media release, iTunes viewers are  ow purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and 350,000 movies each day. As for Apple’s online-only content store, it is home to 60,000 movies and over 230,000 TV episodes.

Apple quotes its SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy cue, as saying:

HBO GO and WatchESPN are some of the most popular iOS apps and are sure to be huge hits on Apple TV. We continue to offer Apple TV users great new programming options, combined with access to all of the incredible content they can purchase from the iTunes Store.

The software update, per Apple’s support document, also includes “improves reliability of signing in to the iTunes Store and playing purchased content”.

Availability of the five new content providers varies by country and may require account subscriptions. For example, HBO GO requires a subscription to HBO through participating television providers.

HBO GO users get unlimited access to their favorite HBO shows, including HBO original programming, hit movies, sports, documentaries, comedy specials and more. This includes full seasons of the best of HBO, plus bonus features and special behind-the-scenes extras.

This is a major development which greatly enhances Apple TV’s usability.

The Apple TV also supports free and paid streaming content from the Wall Street Journal, YouTube, Vimeo,  Hulu Plus, Netflix, as well as live sports from MLB, NBA and NHL.