The Apple TV got another update adding even more functionality from content providers including Vevo, Disney Channel HD, Disney XD, the Weather Channel and a new Smithsonian Channel app. This comes after they already added apps for things like HBO Go, ESPN Watch Now and others in a previous update.
The update showed up on Apple TV boxes today. Users who don’t see them should go into their Apple TV Settings App and check the Software Update section. Let it download and restart. Once it does, the screen will now show a total of 24 apps including the five new ones just added in this update.
This makes an interesting race between Apple and Google, with Google’s recent release of the Chromecast, which streams content from the Chrome browser, Youtube and Netflix. Apple’s ahead, but Google’s stream from the browser while letting users surf to another page and still see the content from the original site creates an interest wrinkle.
Customers who don’t subscribe to Apple’s partner providers can’t use a few of the channels. The Disney Apple TV channels require the user to log into their TV provider account before they can watch content.
Here’s the list of what’s new and what a user can expect from the channel app:
- Disney Channel HD – streams Disney channel live and on-demand to the device
- Disney XD – caters to ages 6-15 with live and on-demand content from the channel
- VEVO Music – like the old MTV with streaming music videos and concerts for subscribers
- Weather Channel – check weather with this channel app
- Smithsonian Channel – educational channel patterned after the national museum of the same name in Washington, D.C.
Previous updates added HBO Go and Watch ESPN as well as lesser known channels like Sky News and Crunchy Roll, to name a few. Users had to subscribe to HBO and ESPN via an included Apple partner. DirecTV subscribers, such as, were left out in both updates, but others like Time Warner, Charter and DISH can use them.
What’s the value of streaming Disney or ESPN, if a user must also subscribe to the channel through a cable or satellite service?
Many would say very little, except that now they can get on-demand content. The partner providers already offer on-demand access to much of the contents, so this still begs the question. What good does it do? Someone might connect an Apple TV to a TV that doesn’t already get cable or satellite, like in a second room. Some buy an Apple TV for an office board room or classrooms. Content like Smithsonian Channel videos could help teachers.
A second benefit comes in the long-term battle for cord cutting. If consumers can watch more content without a set-top box, then they will demand more putting pressure on networks to offer streaming versions without ties to providers. This could serve as one more advance in the expected outcome where consumers control when and where they can enjoy digital video content. We’re not there yet, but this gets us a step closer to an a la carte TV experience over the Internet, some would argue.