HBO gives older Apple TV owners a short reprieve

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HBO will no longer axe support for certain older Apple TV models for its HBO GO and HBO NOW apps at the end of the month, though the reprieve is only temporary. The streaming provider gave some customers an unpleasant surprise earlier this month, when it announced that it was retiring support for Apple's older set-top boxes.

The change impacted the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV models. Come April 30, HBO said, the apps would no longer be functional, and subscribers would need to find alternative ways to view their favorite shows.

In a sense it was a fairly understandable decision. While Apple may only be up to the fifth generation of Apple TV, the leisurely pace between upgrades means that second and third generation models are definitely getting on in age – at least in tech industry terms. The 2nd gen Apple TV was released in September 2010, for example, making it almost a decade old. The first iteration of the Apple TV 3rd gen, meanwhile, was released eight years ago, in March 2012.

Now, though, HBO is easing up on its roadmap. HBO NOW will now be available on the two older Apple TV models until May 15, the company confirmed to Engadget. HBO GO will stick around for "a few additional months" before it's retired.

As for the decision to switch things up in the first place, HBO's spokesperson said that had been "business-as-usual device deprecation" that was in the pipeline for several months. Providers often retire support for older models so as to add new features, take advantage of better hardware specifications of newer set-top boxes, or simply because the aging processors have become a bottleneck for performance.

While the change is a welcome one for those who hadn't counted on buying an Apple TV replacement any time soon, it's only a short-lived thing. HBO's guidance remains the same, that subscribers either upgrade to a newer Apple TV – such as the fifth generation model with 4K support – or switch to a different streaming device. They could, for example, use a game console, while the cheapest alternative streamer is probably Amazon's Fire TV Stick at $39.99.

Alternatively, they can use AirPlay to stream to their existing Apple TV from an iPhone or iPad, or hook up a computer via HDMI.