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Since its debut in 2007, Apple TV has gradually improved its channel lineup. Let’s take a look at Apple TV’s channels and what they have to offer.
This article covers Apple TV channels for the 2nd and 3rd generation models. The new Apple TV 4 features an App Store with thousands of apps, many of which are content channels. Most of the channels presented in this article are available as tvOS apps for Apple TV 4. For more information on Apple TV 4, check out “Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual”. If you are interested in the top Apple TV 4 tvOS apps and a video displaying every tvOS app, please read “Apple TV tvOS Apps”.
This article catalogs and describes every channel on 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV’s in alphabetical order. The following channels are covered: A&E, ABC, ABC News, ACC Sports, AOL On, Apple Events, Bloomberg, CBS, CBS News, CBS Sports, CNBC, CNNgo, Crackle, Computers, Crunchyroll, Dailymotion, Disney, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, Feeln, Flickr, FOX NOW, Fusion, FX NOW, FYI, HBO GO, HBO NOW, History, Hulu, iCloud Photos, iMovie Theater, iTunes Festival, iTunes Radio, KORTV, Lifetime, M2M, MLB.TV, MLS, Movies, Music, NatGeo TV, NBA, NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra, Netflix, NFL, NHL, 120 Sports, PBS, PBS Kids, Podcasts, Qello, Radio, Red Bull TV, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, Smithsonian Channel, Sky News, Tastemade, TED, Tennis Channel Everywhere, The Beatles, The Scene, Trailers, TV Shows, UFC, USA NOW, Vevo, Vimeo, Weather Channel, Willow, WSJ Live, WWE Network, Yahoo Screen, Young Hollywood and YouTube.
If you’re looking for a quick reference of Apple TV channel costs, check out “Apple TV Channels by Cost”. If you want to read about Apple TV channels in detail, including pricing information and screenshots, continue reading this article.
The A&E channel for Apple TV offers original dramas, reality shows and other programs for viewers. Popular A&E shows include Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars and Bates Motel.
Launched in 1984 as the Arts & Entertainment Network, the channel was the result of a merger between Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS) and The Entertainment Channel. The channel was initially aimed at being a commercial version of PBS, with high-brow entertainment. Over the years, A&E has had many programming changes. Most notably, A&E has moved into producing original content, like many other networks. While some of the programming appeals to less sophisticated audiences, A&E has managed to produce extremely popular programs.
The A&E channel for Apple TV offers free programming for everyone, however, cable subscribers have access to additional episodes and content. Users can activate the A&E channel by navigating to Settings > Sign in to Provider from within the channel. From this screen, the user is given an activation code which must entered into a web page for activation.
The A&E channel features a simple user interface. The main screen has a scrolling marquee featuring popular shows. Users can scroll down the screen to browse content organized by category. One can search content and access settings from the top menu.
Price: Free; more content available with activation (requires cable subscription from participating provider).
Tip: For more information about the A&E channel, go to Settings > FAQ from the channel’s top menu.
The ABC television network has its own Apple TV channel. Viewers can watch live ABC television from their local affiliate or enjoy on demand content. Unfortunately, ABC’s on demand offering is far from comprehensive. Viewers can only choose from a few episodes of ABC programs.
Users can browse content, however this channel does not offer a search feature. There’s really not a lot of content to choose from, so searching may be superfluous.
Program pages offer links to ABC shows in iTunes, enabling the user to purchase more episodes. It’s typically more cost-effective to subscribe to Hulu Plus, which offers many ABC programs for a modest monthly subscription. One can also use their iPad and AirPlay to watch ABC shows on Apple TV.
Price: requires cable subscription for activation
Tip: The ABC app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can beam shows on to your Apple TV using AirPlay Screen Mirroring.
ABC News is another great way to stay informed on Apple TV. The news channel offers live, streaming video, in addition to video on demand. This is one of the best organized and most useful news channels on Apple TV.
With its origins dating back to 1943, ABC news offers decades of broadcast experience. The network originated after the FCC ruled that the NBC Blue Network must be spun off into a new, independent company. ABC is now owned by the Walt Disney corporation. Over the years, ABC has been known for high quality news, including Nightline, which started during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Nightline is still broadcast and is available on the ABC News Apple TV channel.
ABC News for Apple TV is well-organized and easy to use. The channel opens with the Featured view, displaying a marquee of top stories and featured programs. Below the marquee, users can pick from a few live streams. Top Stories appear below the live streams. This is one of the best places to find up-to-the-minute news. The news stories are updated throughout the day, making it easy to stay up to date and follow breaking news. The Featured view also displays news grouped by top stories, enabling viewers to watch multiple videos about the same news story.
The Sections view organizes news by categories including U.S., International, Politics, Health, Entertainment, Technology, Travel and Money. This is a great way to find news that caters to a specific interest.
ABC News shows are featured in the Shows view. Popular news shows such as Good Morning America, World News, Nightline, 20/20 and This Week are available to viewers. All of the content is updated regularly, shortly after the show is broadcast on ABC.
The Local section is an area that could use some improvement. ABC’s local news only covers a few urban areas — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Fresno and Milwaukee. Ideally, local news should be offered based on the viewer’s location. These affiliate features are available with other Apple TV channels, however, ABC is not taking advantage of this technology.
The ABC News Channel offers an auto-play feature, making it a bit more like real TV. It also shows a small summary pane on the lower left of the screen as each video loads. This makes for a pleasant viewing experience with minimal user interaction required. Overall, the channel offers a wealth of news information. It is probably the best news channel on Apple TV for Americans.
Tip: “Top Stories” on the main Featured view is the best way to get the latest news from ABC. Simply start the first video and the auto-play feature will play all of the latest news videos.
Fans of college sports can keep up-to-date with their favorite teams using the ACC Sports and Campus Insiders channel for Apple TV. Although the channel carries the Atlantic Coast Conference brand, college sports conferences such as the PAC 12, Big 12 and others are featured on this Apple TV channel.
The ACC sports channel doesn’t feature live or on demand games in their entirety. Content includes game highlights, standings, and college athletics shows such as The Seth Davis Show, Inside the Mountain West, and Inside the Tourney.
The ACC Sports channel features an easy-to-use interface. The top menu allows viewers to browse content by categories such as ACC, Campus Insiders and Most Recent. Users can also search through a vast collection of programs and video clips. Viewers can browse specific conferences and teams by clicking on Campus Insiders from the top menu and navigating the Conferences category. Clicking on a conference will display a list of schools and clips.
Unlike some Apple TV sports channels, ACC Sports lacks an app-like way to browse standings and statistics. Users can still find this information, organized by team, however the information is presented with short videos. This isn’t necessarily a shortcoming, as the videos present insight and analysis of teams and their competitors. The ability to browse content by sport seems like a much-needed improvement. It is possible to use the search feature to find a specific sport.
Tip: Use the search feature to find information about a specific sport or team.
America Online was once the leading Internet service provider (ISP) and web portal. After the .com meltdown and the explosive growth of Google, America Online became less relevant. When their merger with Time Warner proved unsuccessful, AOL was spun off into a separate company. AOL is building itself as a media company, acquiring The Huffington Post, MapQuest, Moviefone and other media holdings.
The AOL On channel for Apple TV offers news and information programming. The main screen features many different content “channels”, however, this term is misleading. These are more categories than channels, and include topics such as news, entertainment, tech, sports, home, food, business and more. Each channel has a row of associated videos. The news stories provided are informative and up-to-date. The main screen also features a scrolling marquee with top stories.
From the top menu, users can browse shows from AOL On. Currently, there are 25 shows available to Apple TV viewers. The shows are mainly about technology and entrepreneurship, but also include diverse topics such as tattoos, auto racing, and parenting. It’s a veritable potpourri of random content. Users can also search content from the top menu.
Tip: Check out the food channel on AOL On for great recipe ideas.
Apple is known to host engaging keynote events. These happenings are shrouded in secrecy as techies ponder the new creations that Apple will unveil. Most people will never get invited to these events. Even if they’re hosted at the Moscone Center, only a few thousand people can attend. Unless you work for a major media outlet, chances are you won’t be invited. For everyone else, Apple TV features the Apple Events channel.
The Apple Events channel features live streaming of the latest Apple event. If you’re interested new Apple product features, it’s worth watching. The Apple Event channel is not a permanent fixture on Apple TV. It appears before an Apple event and is removed within days. Viewers can watch the event live or on demand.
Tip: If you missed the latest Apple event and the Apple Events channel is no longer on the menu, try downloading the Podcast. Apple posts all of their major events as Podcasts, which don’t expire. You can even watch some of the old events with Steve Jobs. (continue…)