Significant Apple TV App Updates Expected in 2019

Dave Zatz —  May 10, 2018 — 6 Comments


Noted Apple gossip blog Bloomberg indicates the company intends to beef up its TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad:

Right now, the TV app aggregates content from other providers, allowing people to locate shows from a wide array of apps and channels like ABC, NBA League Pass and HBO, rather than having to hop between different apps. But then Apple sends customers outside its app to buy access to those channels or watch shows. With the pending change, subscription purchasing would move to the TV app. Apple could eventually move the streaming to its own app, instead of sending users to third parties.

Sounds a lot like Amazon’s Prime Video app and Channels approach, by becoming a streaming service content hub for, presumably, a more elegant end-user experience, that also happens to generate additional affiliate revenue for Apple — and not entirely dissimilar from Roku’s desire for a bigger cut on the content distribution front. Beyond 3rd party providers, this may also signal that Apple intends to leverage an updated TV app to distribute its own upcoming original programming.

6 responses to Significant Apple TV App Updates Expected in 2019

  1. This basically sounds like it would be their version of a streaming service ala Sling, DirecTV Now, etc. Just more a la carte in terms of the networks/content. One place to access all your content/networks, etc.

    And many more networks are going to need to offer the ability to just have a monthly online subscription and not just the login with your cable subscription requirement….sounds like maybe that is what Apple is enabling for them.

    It is starting to seem silly for each individual network to maintain these separate siloed apps with so many streaming services available and even the big cable networks having their own apps (Comcast).

  2. That was one of Roku’s points in their earnings call yesterday. However, the big boys will still want to control the experience, possibly upsell, etc. Doesn’t mean they can’t implement a multi-pronged approach. I do wonder about CBS All Access tho – do they have enough customers to justify the original content? Obviously, one feeds the other and they are likely willing to lose money up front.

    I should add that I recently decommissioned my basement Apple TV (for now anyway), since they don’t have a single sign-on relationship with Verizon FiOS, whereas Fire TV does and is now in position.

  3. Your last sentence is interesting in that no one has any idea how Apple plans to distribute all those shows.

    I’m still shocked that Apple hasn’t introduced a TV version of the Nano, a device that would compete with Amazon and Roku on price. Because you need to be a hardcore fanboy to conclude that AppleTV is worth the extra $150.

  4. I’m not a hardcore Apple fanboy (I tend more toward Google stuff these days) but the Apple TV 4K is simply the best all-around streamer on the market. It’s a pleasure to use. And one factor in its greatness is the TV app, which I use every day. It’s truly become my “home page” for TV viewing. (Just wish Netflix would get on board and support it.)

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Apple’s upcoming premium original series will live inside the TV app. In fact, I think the TV app will be their native and exclusive home. (So no new, separate app just for an Apple subscription TV service.) They’ll just feature Apple original series prominently within the TV app, probably with a dedicated row toward the top of the app (but below the Up Next universal queue at the very top).

    As for Apple incorporating third party subscriptions into the TV app, it’s simple enough for them to do it for a la carte services that are already integrated with the TV app and allow billing via iTunes: Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, etc. But perhaps we’ll see this expand to include certain cable network families, such as Discovery/Scripps, Viacom, AMC Networks, etc. So, for instance, if you signed up for Discovery/Scripps in the TV app, you’d automatically be signed into their individual channels apps (HGTV, Discovery, Food, Travel, etc.), with that their collective content featured within your customized UI of the TV app. Maybe they’ll try to help out PBS too, by letting you sign up for PBS Passport subscriptions (which unlock lots more content in the PBS app) within the TV app.

  5. Alan, I highly suspect Apple will introduce a lower-priced Apple TV if they move forward with restricting Apple serials to Apple products. They could cut costs simply by dropping 4k, optical output, and packaging a simpler remote (no glass touchpad, voice control). Or just lower existing hardware prices, assuming they’ll make it up through content sales, app sales, and affiliate revenue.

  6. And then Dave, the question becomes “is it too late?”

    Unlike ten years ago when they could roll out iPods knowing there was no viable alternative, both Roku and Amazon Fire TV have both strong fan bases and sizable market share. They’ve both been pretty smart too about getting themselves embedded as the OS for smart TVs–Roku OS TVs now account for 20% of the market.

    Factor in major missteps with HomePod, iPhone X, Apple Music and even the Macbook line, and there may not be much demand for a cheaper Apple TV when it’s launched mid-2019. At least not as much as Apple is likely hoping for.

    Which, as someone who is heavily invested in Apple and has never touched a Windows-based PC or Android phone, makes me sad.

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