Larry Magid: Google Chromecast and HBO Max

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Even though I am one of the shrinking group of people who still has a cable subscription, I watch most of my non-news content through streaming typically on a TV, although sometimes on a computer or phone. For years, my streaming device of choice has been Roku, which makes devices that connect to any modern TV, starting at under . They also license their technology to TV makers like TCL, Philips, JVC, RCA and others. Ive been so impressed with Roku over the years that I not only bought several generations of its streaming devices, but three TCL TVs with Roku built in. One of the things I liked about Roku was the vast number of streaming channels available ranging from the most popular like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to the most obscure like tiny TV stations from around the world or channels that display Yule logs. Sadly, my love affair with Roku is starting to fade because they are no longer an open system and are now letting business decisions impact what channels I can watch. The most obvious example is HBO Max, the new streaming service from HBO that replaced the old HBO Go service that used to be on Roku and other streaming platforms. In addition to HBO content, HBO Max also includes programs and movies from DC (including Wonder Woman), Sesame Workshop, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network, Looney Toons and, my favorite, Turner Classic Movies. HBO and its parent company WarnerMedia are now owned by AT&T, which offers the service free as part of some of their higher-end phone plans. Roku isnt the only major platform without HBO Max. Its also absent from Amazons Fire devices. There are reports that Roku and Amazon are in talks with HBO to add HBO Max to their platforms but in the meantime its more difficult for people to take advantage of their HBO subscriptions. HBO Max is free for anyone who already has an HBO subscription including those who get free HBO through bundling deals with phone companies and TV services.

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