Without access to contracts signed between Comcast and HBO, it is impossible to state with full accuracy, the causes behind the year-long delay of HBO GO on the Xbox One. But it is fair to say that this contract has stipulations regarding device restrictions & allowances. The authentication system HBO uses to validate that users are subscribers of their content has been dependent on content providers cooperating. Comcast, the content provider, authenticates all HBO devices with one exception, Roku. This infers that the contract between Comcast and HBO allows for prohibiting certain devices from being authorized to receive streaming services.
Comcast has also refused to authenticate Viacom’s Comedy Central and VH1 apps on the Xbox One. However, Viacom has released the apps anyhow with Comcast subscriber’s left in the dark. The long delay for HBO GO pertains to parity. To avoid confusion, Microsoft and HBO have been aiming for all content providers to be on board before releasing an app. This eliminates superfluous Comcast customer inquires to both Microsoft and HBO along the lines of, “Why isn’t HBO GO available ?”. Comcast’s track record has proven an unwillingness to authenticate where they see competition. As Comcast aims to diversify and become a “technology” company, more manufacturers and technology-related services will be viewed as competitors.
HBO recently announced that they will fore go content providers and offer a streaming plan directly to consumers. The timing of this announcement either indicates it’s being used as leverage, or more damning, talks with Comcast have turned sour. Either way, the imminent release of HBO GO for Xbox One is now here*.
*Comcast TV subscribers potentially excluded. Comcast Internet subscribers can access HBO GO on Roku if they have TV service with another provider such as Dish or DirecTV
UPDATE: Shortly after this editorial went live, an anonymous user on on Reddit posted images of a working HBO Go app on Xbox One. The images have since been removed.