How to watch HBO Go on your Apple TV, sort of

Apple TV doesn't directly support the channel, and the app version doesn't allow video out. But where there's a will (and a Comcast account), there's a way.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
"Flight of the Conchords" shown via a new iPad connected to an Apple TV and running the Comcast Xfinity TV app.
"Flight of the Conchords" shown via a new iPad connected to an Apple TV and running the Comcast Xfinity TV app. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I love HBO Go. Love it. Having instant, on-demand access to shows like "Deadwood," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Game of Thrones," and "Extras" is all kinds of awesome.

Too bad I can't enjoy it on the ol' flat-screen. There's no HBO Go channel on my Apple TV, and the iOS apps don't allow video out. Meanwhile, Comcast doesn't support HBO Go on Roku boxes (even though most other cable providers do), so that's a no-go as well. (Comcast doesn't allow it on the Xbox, either, as Scott Stein reported earlier today.)

Thankfully, there's a workaround. Here's what you need:

  1. An iPhone 4s, iPad 2, or new iPad.
  2. An Apple TV.
  3. A subscription to Comcast and HBO.
  4. The Comcast Xfinity TV app.

So here's how it works: the aforementioned iDevices support "mirroring" to an Apple TV, meaning everything you see on the small screen gets reproduced on the big one.

Well, not quite everything. As I noted above, the HBO Go apps don't support video out, either via cable or mirroring. However, Comcast's Xfinity TV app does, and so by firing up that app, you can access and mirror all HBO on-demand content. And not just HBO, but also Showtime, Cinemax, and pretty much everything else Xfinity offers.

It's not a particularly elegant solution, nor does it afford the most razor-sharp image. (I also had trouble getting it anywhere near full-screen.) But it works, and there's a side benefit: any streaming you do via the Xfinity app doesn't count toward your monthly Comcast data cap.

That said, the whole HBO Go situation is so far beyond ridiculous, it can't even see ridiculous in the rear-view mirror. (Again, read Scott Stein's take.) If I ran HBO, I'd be hopping mad that Comcast and Time Warner impose limits on how customers can watch my network.

On the other hand, why doesn't HBO offer a direct subscription option that bypasses the cable companies altogether? Heck, why not partner up with Netflix? I'd pay a few extra bucks per month for all that HBO Go content, and I guarantee I'm not the only one.

What are your thoughts on all this? Do you think this mirroring solution is worthwhile? Are you fed up with Comcast? HBO? Both? Let's talk turkey -- and TV -- in the comments.