By Chand Bellur
August 25, 2020 at 11:43 a.m. PT
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.
NOTE: 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.
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.
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.
The Bloomberg channel for Apple TV offers 24 hour live news and video on demand. News content focuses on business and finance, but also offers technology, lifestyle and political coverage. The 24 hour live feed features some infomercials in the late evening and early morning, but viewers can watch on demand content at any time.
The user interface is intuitive and easy to use. The live broadcast is accessible from the top menu bar. From here, the viewer can browse the programming schedule and watch the live stream. On demand content can be browsed by program or using the search feature.
Overall, Bloomberg is a great addition to Apple TV. For those who want to keep up with the stock market and financial news, this channel is essential.
Tip: The Bloomberg app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a great way to get stock quotes and financial news.
Apple TV is coming closer to a cord-cutters dream, or perhaps nightmare, depending on how you look at it. For $5.99 a month, viewers can subscribe to CBS All Access. The service provides access to CBS programming, something most people can get for free with an antenna. Viewers will still have to sit through commercials, even though they’re paying for the service. If you subscribe to cable, satellite or telco (U-Verse), you’re out of luck. CBS All Access is subscription only. Without a subscription, viewers can only watch clips. The user interface does not clearly inform users which content requires a subscription. Users are presented with a pay wall after drilling down into a video.
CBS came into being when United International Broadcasters Inc. was purchased and renamed as the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1928. The company started with 16 radio stations and grew into the large television and radio network we know today. The company is currently owned by National Amusements, which owns CBS’s controlling interest, Sumner Redstone.
The main CBS screen resembles most Apple TV channels. A scrolling marquee displays promoted content at the top of the screen. Beneath the marquee, videos are arranged in a grid, grouped by categories. The categories include Primetime Episodes, Daytime Episodes, Late Night Episodes, TV Classics, Latest Clips and Popular Clips.
The Shows screen presents almost 100 series, from past to present. The collection of content is actually impressive and is complimentary to services like Hulu and Netflix. Viewers can enjoy all of the latest CBS programs, in addition to older shows like Star Trek, Taxi, Family Ties and Perry Mason. Television fanatics might find the All Access price worthwhile. Also, compared to buying one season of a CBS show on iTunes, the All Access pass is reasonable, but more expensive than getting CBS for free over the air. When you drill down into a show, you can see the individual episodes. Selecting an episode will display a summary and whether the show requires a CBS All Access pass. Apart from clips, all shows require CBS All Access.
The CBS channel for Apple TV offers live, streaming television from your local affiliate. This is a great way to get local programming and news. The Live TV screen displays a scrollable schedule of upcoming CBS programs.
There is no search functionality on the CBS channel. This is surprising and disappointing. We can only hope they add this feature soon. With almost 100 shows, it can be a bit of a chore to sift through TV shows. There’s also no recently watched screen, watch list, or any way to quickly access preferred content. Given the $5.99/mo price for access, these features should be offered to subscribers.
The Settings menu provides the ability to manage your subscription, get help, submit feedback, view legal agreements and view network information. You can purchase CBS All Access directly from iTunes and also get a one week free trial. If you subscribe from the CBS website, you can get a 30 day free trial. Those interested in a free trial have to act fast. These offers don’t last long. Information and feedback on the settings menu is only provided as web URLs. This is a clumsy way to provide information. Users are expected to type in long URLs and email addresses in order to look up information, provide feedback or ask for help. The CBS channel for Apple TV could use a lot of improvement. Even for an initial release, it seems rushed, lackluster and absent of necessary functionality.
Price: limited free content; $5.99/mo subscription;
Tip: If the subscription price is too steep, try accessing CBS using an antenna.
The Columbia Broadcasting Service started with five-minute news broadcasts back in 1929. From these humble origins, it grew into one of the largest providers of news. Shows such as 60 Minutes and the CBS Evening News are popular and have been informing viewers for decades. CBS now offers its news content on Apple TV.
The ubiquitous scrolling marquee is absent from the CBS News channel’s main screen. Instead, users are presented with a grid of video icons arranged by categories such as CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, U.S. and World. While the video quality is excellent, some of the audio is surprisingly thin, being compressed for faster streaming. The main screen offers users a convenient way to navigate top news stories.
If you prefer a continuous live stream of news coverage, the recently launched CBSN service is ideal. From the top menu, users can select CBSN and then choose whether to watch the live stream or view previously aired content. This service was recently launched and is experiencing growing pains. At the time of this writing, I was unable to watch the live stream. I also had trouble with the previously aired programming. As with many new Internet ventures, it will take some time to provide reliable streaming, as capacity planning is difficult to estimate before a launch. Nonetheless, this is a promising feature.
Viewers can browse content organized by shows from the Shows menu. Popular CBS News shows include CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, and 60 Minutes. Shows are organized into clips, but will automatically play the next clip for continuous viewing. The Topics menu allows viewers to browse clips organized by topics, such as U.S., World, Politics, Entertainment and Health. CBS News also offers a search feature.
Tip: Check out the live CBSN stream for the most recent coverage of breaking news.
Sports fans without cable or satellite subscriptions can enjoy free clips and sports updates on Apple TV. The CBS Sports channel provides sports coverage without the need for activation with a TV provider. If you’re looking for live games or full-length replays, they are noticeably absent from this simple channel. It’s a great way to check up on your favorite sport and get scores, highlights, interviews and analysis.
CBS began broadcasting televised sports in the early 1950s. In 1951, the CBS affiliate WCBS-TV broadcast the Dodgers vs. Braves game in color. Sporting coverage grew over time, and CBS Sports became its own organization, covering virtually every sport. The CBS Sports channel on Apple TV covers just about every sport. Just don’t expect to watch the game on this channel.
The main Featured screen offers the typical scrolling marquee with featured sports coverage. Below the marquee, videos are organized by categories such as Most Popular, Latest and other current subjects. The videos are all short clips, mostly under five minutes long. Video quality is good, however, audio quality is substandard. The CBS News Apple TV channel also offers substandard audio quality. Once a video clip has finished, the next one will commence playing. This makes up for the short duration of clips. You can start videos in the Latest category to get a virtual sports news broadcast.
The Fantasy menu offers information helpful to fantasy sports participants. If you play fantasy baseball, football or other sports, you can research players using the clips on this menu. Clips from CBS Sports programs are available from the Shows menu. Viewers can browse clips organized by shows such as Boomer & Carton, Jim Rome and the Doug Gottlieb Show.
There is some innovation on this simple Apple TV channel. The Sports menu features a menu of sports on the left. It is a clean, simple design with graphical icons for each sport. Selecting a sport on the left will populate the grid of videos on the right. Since there is no search feature on this Apple TV channel, the Sports menu is the easiest way to browse videos by sport. There is no settings menu. Overall, the channel is simple and limited, but accessible to all for free.
Tip: The Fantasy menu offers a clean and concise way to research players for fantasy football, baseball and basketball.
The Consumer News and Business Channel, also known as CNBC, began broadcasting in 1989. The channel is owned by the NBCUniversal News Group, which was recently acquired by Comcast. CNBC focuses on business and financial news. Popular shows include Mad Money, Power Lunch and Squawk Box. CNBC is one of several news channels available on Apple TV.
The main screen displays a scrolling marquee with featured programs. Below the marquee, viewers can browse the latest news, top news and other categories. CNBC’s live feed is available from the top menu. This features 24 hour programming. The schedule is displayed on the right side of the screen. In the early hours of the morning, CNBC offers different content, such as music and fashion-oriented programming.
Other menu options include Business News and Prime. Business News features on demand programs originally broadcast on CNBC. The Prime menu offers shows covering other topics, such as American Greed, Crime Inc., and Restaurant Startup. Viewers can also search CNBC to find a specific program.
Price: free with cable, satellite, or telecom subscription; video clips are free for everyone
Tips: If you don’t have a TV provider that supports activation, you can get business news on Apple TV from Bloomberg or WSJ Live.
The Cable News Network, or CNN, launched as the first 24-hour news channel in 1980. It was also the first all news channel available on cable television. From these humble beginnings, CNN quickly grew into one of the largest cable channels. At its peak, CNN was available to over 100 million U.S. households.
Competition and difficulties adapting to the digital world have caused CNN’s viewership to decline in recent years. Currently, there are about 96 million households that receive CNN. In an effort to reinvent the channel, CNN added shows that go beyond news, such as Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man. CNN has also attempted to capture the digital audience with a website, mobile apps and now an Apple TV channel. Unfortunately, one must subscribe to a television provider to fully activate their digital portals.
The CNNgo channel for Apple TV presents a familiar user interface. The main screen features a scrolling marquee and video icons arranged in a grid. Viewers can quickly access top news, popular videos and fringe news stories (“Behind the News”). Videos featured on the main screen do not require activation with a TV provider (cable, satellite or telco). From the top menu, one can quickly access Live TV, Shows, Must See, Search and Settings.
Live TV offers the live CNN broadcast. The screen also features a complete schedule of upcoming programs. Viewers must activate CNNgo with a TV provider in order to view the live broadcast.
The Shows screen offers convenient access to popular CNN shows such as Anderson Cooper 360, Fareed Zakaria GPS and Inside Politics. Access to these shows requires activation with a TV provider.
The Must See menu allows viewers to browse news stories by category selections available at the top of the screen. It also offers the same featured videos available on the main screen. Must See videos are available to all viewers without activation.
The Search menu offers easy access to videos by using the Apple TV search interface. At first glance, this feature doesn’t appear to work, as typing in a few letters doesn’t produce results. If you type in a whole word, such as “Obama”, you will see search results. Presumably, this is to limit the number of search results returned, however, this is poorly implemented and confusing. I thought the search feature was broken.
Activation and access to the legal agreements are available through the Settings menu. Users can also read information about closed captioning.
Price: requires activation with TV provider (cable, satellite, telco); video clips are available without activation
Tip: Not getting any search results? Make sure to type in a complete word.
Sony Picture’s Crackle channel is a great way to watch free content on your Apple TV. I like to think of it as the poor man’s Hulu Plus. Crackle features free HD movies and TV shows, subsidized with commercials.
Crackle’s selection may leave something to be desired, but there’s always a few programs worth watching. The content is uncut and unedited, however, viewers will be interrupted with the occasional commercial break.
Users can browse Crackle’s content by movies, shows, and watchlists. Watchlists are a mash-up of recommendations and genres. There is no search functionality. Given the limited selection, it’s easy enough to browse the entire video collection. Users can sign up for a free Crackle account, allowing them to save favorite programs to a Watchlist.
Tip: If you see something you like, watch it as soon as possible. On average, programs are retained on Crackle for five months.
Apple TV can connect to the iTunes Library on a Mac or PC, enabling playback of media files stored on a networked computer. This feature requires that Home Sharing is turned on in iTunes. Make sure that iTunes is running on your computer before you use this feature.
The Computers channel allows you to “pull” content onto your Apple TV, as opposed to “pushing” it using AirPlay. It’s especially convenient if your content is on a computer located in another room. It’s also a great way to listen to that enormous iTunes collection of music on your Mac or PC. You’ll even see the album cover displayed on Apple TV.
The user interface enables easy browsing of your iTunes Library. Moving the cursor to the Computers channel displays frequently accessed content on the top marquee. Users can drill down into their iTunes Library by clicking on the Computers channel. From the Computers menu, one can browse music, movies, TV shows, home videos (movies imported into iTunes) and podcasts.
Tip: Import mp4 video files into iTunes and watch them on your Apple TV using the Computers channel.
Fans of Asian programming will be delighted with the Crunchyroll Apple TV channel. The U.S. based media company specializes in importing Asian programming such as anime, drama, music, manga, auto racing, and electronic entertainment.
Crunchyroll requires an account to access most content. Without logging in, users can watch a small selection of clips and full-length episodes. After authenticating, the main menu offers easy access to anime, drama and the main Crunchyroll screen with popular and recent videos. Users can also add videos to their queue. The Crunchyroll channel also features the ability to search through the entire video collection.
Price: limited free content; content available for $6.95/month for anime, $11.95/month for all access.
Tip: The Crunchyroll website is a great way to explore a wide range of Asian video. You can create a free account and sign up for a 14-day free trial.
Dailymotion is a video sharing portal, similar to YouTube or Vimeo, founded in Paris in 2005. The service is available in 35 countries and is offered in 18 different languages, making it one of the largest video sharing networks. Dailymotion is just starting to gain traction in the United States, with their Apple TV channel being part of this growth.
Dailymotion offers a simple user interface, even by Apple TV standards. There is the noticeable absence of the scrolling marquee, which is a fixture on most Apple TV channels. Instead, Dailymotion offers a grid of video thumbnails, organized by categories such as Videos You Might Like, Who To Follow, Music, Gaming, Sports, News, Movies and TV. The video content is a mix of amateur video and offerings from professional broadcast sources.
Tip: If you like video sharing portals, make sure to check out the YouTube and Vimeo channels on Apple TV.
With three channels, Disney has a strong presence on Apple TV. Disney studios has been around since 1923, producing a wide array of movies and television shows. With such a huge collection, it only makes sense to break it into three separate Apple TV Channels — the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.
The different channels offer Disney content designed for specific viewing audiences. The Disney Channel features content for girls. Disney XD offers programming aimed at boys. Disney Junior is intended for very young viewers under five years old.
Price: requires cable subscription for activation
Tip: People without cable can access children’s programming on PBS, the Smithsonian Channel, Netflix, Hulu Plus and iTunes.
Sports fans have a lot to love about Apple TV. With the exception of the NFL, every other major sport is available on Apple TV. ESPN, the popular cable sports channel, offers content from six different channels — ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, and Goal Line. All of this content is encapsulated in one ESPN channel for Apple TV.
The ESPN channel offers both live and on demand video. Viewers can browse content by channel, sport, and featured videos. The user interface is simple and easy to use. Browsing by channels offers the ability to view the broadcasting schedule. If you want to find every viewing option for a particular sport, browsing by sport covers all six ESPN channels.
Price: requires cable subscription for activation; some content available without activation
Tips: If you missed your favorite ESPN show or game, try watching it on demand with your Apple TV.
Founded by Hollywood producer Robert N. Fried in 2007, Feeln streams family friendly movies over the Internet. The content provider was originally named SpiritClips, but was re-branded soon after being acquired by Hallmark Cards in 2012. The service is similar to Hulu Plus and Netflix in that it has no broadcast or cable TV presence. It is only available as a subscription based streaming service. At $3.99 per month, Feeln is an economical way to provide family friendly programming. In addition to unedited family friendly movies, Feeln edits mature material to fit a PG rating.
Feeln’s main screen is familiar and looks like most Apple TV channels. There is a scrolling marquee at the top of the screen which displays featured programs. Other programs are organized by category below the scrolling marquee. Feeln has a surprisingly large catalog of content and features popular movies, including Academy Award winners.
The Series menu features TV shows. This is an area where Feeln’s selection could be improved. It is a good complement to PBS Kids, which is also available on Apple TV. Feeln offers 25 TV series, with shows like 24/7 Wild, Blue Planet, and Ken Burns: Baseball.
Like many other streaming providers, Feeln produces their own original content. These movies and TV shows can be accessed from the Originals menu. Feeln offers a large selection of original content. They have been producing original programs for almost a decade. This is an area where they have set themselves apart from other family oriented content providers. Additionally, Hallmark original programming is available under the Hallmark menu.
Users can search Feeln content using the Search menu at the top. The Settings menu provides easy access to subscription management and terms of service. It is possible to purchase a Feeln subscription from the iTunes store, which is a better deal if you get iTunes gift cards at a discount.
Price: $47.99 for annual subscription; $4.99/month; free trial available
Tip: If you like Feeln, check out their iOS app in the App Store.
Apple TV can do much more than just play music and videos. Apple’s TV platform provides a few channels that appeal to shutter bugs. The Flickr channel for Apple TV can display your Flickr photograph collection as a slide show or screen saver. You can access shared collections, in addition to public photographs of other users. Keep in mind that Flickr may contain adult content.
Tip: Sign up for Flickr and use your photographs as a screen saver for Apple TV.
The FOX network has recently embraced streaming video with their new FOX NOW platform. In addition to Apple TV, FOX NOW supports the iPhone, iPad, Android, Xbox, Roku and Samsung Smart TVs. There is one catch — you must have a cable, satellite or telecom subscription to access most content. Without a TV provider’s subscription, you can only enjoy a fraction of the content.
The main screen for FOX NOW displays a scrolling marquee with featured videos at the top. A grid of episodes and clips appears below the scrolling banner. Selecting Shows from the top menu enables access to popular FOX programming. Shows such as 24 – Live Another Day, Almost Human, and Family Guy are available for viewing. FOX Digital Originals are located at the bottom of the Shows screen. Viewers can enjoy streaming-only programs such as Axe Cop, Golan The Insatiable, and High School USA.
Price: requires cable, satellite, or telecom subscription for activation; some shows available without activation
Tip: If you don’t have a TV provider subscription, you can enjoy most FOX programming on Hulu Plus or iTunes.
Aimed at Millennial viewers, the Fusion network is a partnership between the Disney-ABC Television Group and Univision. Launched in 2013, Fusion provides news and entertainment programming, with some content geared toward Latino viewers. Popular Fusion shows include America with Jorge Ramos, Drug Wars, and Fusion Live.
Fusion’s main menu displays featured content with the familiar scrolling marquee at the top of the screen. A grid of video thumbnails organized by topic appears below the marquee. Featured content is organized into topics such as Top News, Most Popular, In The Field, Interviews, Comedy and Series. The Topics menu enables viewers to browse content by currently trending subjects. Lifestyle, music, entertainment and other content can be accessed from the Genres menu.
The Shows menu features a grid of all shows available to Fusion viewers. Clicking on a show displays the detail page. From here, viewers can browse and select specific episodes of a show. Selecting the About label displays information about the show on the left side of the screen. Since Fusion is a new network, the About feature is a useful way to quickly find out about the content of a show. Fusion also offers a Search menu, which is the standard Apple TV search interface.
Tip: Fusion is a great way to find out about news that many other networks don’t cover.
Launched in 1994, FX, which stands for Fox Extended, is an adjunct to the FOX network’s main channel. In the early days of the network, FX featured original programming, along with classic shows such as Batman and Wonder Woman. The network embraced the Internet early on, soliciting viewer feedback via emails and their website. In 1997, FX turned into the channel we know today — one focused on young adult males. FX is well-known for popular shows such as It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy, Louie, and The League. FX NOW is the network’s online presence, allowing on-demand viewing of popular shows over the web, mobile devices, and set-top boxes.
The FX NOW channel for Apple TV requires activation with a television provider. Without activation, viewers can only enjoy a few clips on the main page. Users can activate FX NOW by clicking on Settings and then Sign In. Activation instructions are provided, along with an activation code.
The main screen displays a scrolling marquee with featured programming. Popular TV show episodes and movies are displayed below the marquee. Latest episodes and popular clips are shown at the bottom of the main screen. Popular clips can be viewed without activation.
The Shows screen features popular FX programs. There is an interactive banner at the top of the screen, which allows viewers to play a featured episode. FX shows are organized in a grid. Clicking on a show displays detailed information about the program, along with a list of episodes. Most shows offer extras, such as clips, interviews and behind-the-scenes videos.
Movies are accessible from the top menu. This screen is similar to the Shows screen. FX NOW offers about 50 movies. This collection is refreshed regularly, as new movies are added and old ones are removed. Overall, FX NOW offers a decent selection of movies. Clicking on a movie displays a summary of the movie, along with a banner and “box cover”.
Price: requires subscription with TV provider for activation, clips are available for free
Tip: If you don’t have a subscription with a TV provider, you can watch most FX shows on Netflix, Hulu Plus or iTunes.
Fans of food, craft, lifestyle and reality programming will find much to enjoy with FYI for Apple TV. Launched by A&E in 1999 as The Biography Channel, the network was just recently rebranded as FYI — For Your Inspiration.
The FYI channel for Apple TV offers a very simple user interface with only three menu options — FYI, Search and Settings. Given that the channel is very new and doesn’t offer an abundance of programming, the limited menu is sufficient.
The main menu looks like most Apple TV channels. There is the familiar scrolling marquee promoting featured programs. Below the marquee, one can browse FYI programming categorized by latest episodes and shows. Popular programs include B.O.R.N. to Style, Best in Bridal, and Epic Meal Empire. The programming is just what Apple TV needs. Cable and satellite offer many lifestyle shows, however, Apple TV has a noticeable lack of these types of shows. The PBS channel is another good source of lifestyle shows, but they are produced without the “bling” found in most programming of this type.
As with most Apple TV channels, it is possible to search for programs. FYI just recently launched and doesn’t offer an abundance of programming, making search seem a bit superfluous for now. Browsing the main menu will probably work for most people.
Price: requires TV provider subscription for full access; latest episodes are available to all users
Tip: If you like lifestyle shows, check out the many culinary, craft, and home improvement shows on the PBS channel for Apple TV.
HBO was the first subscription cable channel on the market. Founded in 1972, Home Box Office offered movies and sporting events to a few hundred cable subscribers. The pioneering network has grown, producing its own award-winning programs. Shows such as The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and The Wire have made HBO a successful pay channel and an integral part of American culture.
The HBO GO channel is an exceptional offering. Every HBO program is available on demand, in HD. Furthermore, the channel features a generous selection of movies.
HBO GO offers a simple and intuitive user interface, making it easy to find your favorite programs. User can browse by movies, series, comedy, sports, documentaries and “late night” selections. The main screen features a scrolling marquee of featured videos along with a grid of popular viewing options. Users can search the entire library of HBO content. HBO subscribers can activate the HBO GO channel from the settings menu — just follow the on-screen instructions.
Price: requires HBO cable subscription for activation; clips available without activation
Tip: If you don’t have cable, some people have offered to pay for a friend’s HBO subscription in order to activate HBO GO.
HBO NOW is currently available on Apple TV, as well as other Apple devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. This is a cord-cutter’s dream come true. Viewers can stream HBO original programming and movies. The service offers the complete HBO experience without a cable or satellite subscription.
The HBO NOW Apple TV channel requires activation in order to access any content. One can purchase a subscription and activate the service directly on Apple TV. The first month is free, so there’s nothing to lose. Once the service is activated, the account can be used on other devices.
To start the free trial on Apple TV, simply start HBO NOW and select the free trial option on the first screen. This is pre-selected, so just press the center select button to begin. Next, enter your email address. The email address associated with your Apple ID is pre-populated. HBO will send you information about activating the service on your other devices. Select “Submit”, read the legal agreement, and select “Agree” to view the confirmation screen. Select “Subscribe” to begin your free trial. If you only want the free trial, remember to cancel the service in one month. iTunes will send you an email with the billing dates. You can also turn off auto-renewal on your iTunes account using your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or computer.
When I subscribed, I actually got an error message immediately after completing the process. I selected OK and it went back to the start screen. After selecting the free trial option, I was presented with a message that my subscription has been successfully restored. It’s not the cleanest subscription process. It kind of just works.
The HBO NOW main screen offers the familiar scrolling marquee with featured programming. A grid of videos options is organized by Series, Movies, Comedy, Sports, Documentaries, Collections, New on HBO, For Kids Collection, Love Blooms and Late Night. Selecting a video option will either display a screen with episodes or display information about the video, such as how long it will be available. The More option displays information about the program, including an interactive cast list. One can also add or remove a show from the Watchlist, which is available from the top menu.
The Series and Movies menu options resemble the main screen, with content filtered to show only HBO series and movies. This is a great way to browse HBO NOW’s extensive catalog. Unfortunately, I am sometimes seeing placeholder text in these menu screens. Given that the service has just launched, I expect there to be some defects. Overall, these flaws are minor. I am pleased that the video quality scales based on available bandwidth. Even with my slow Internet connection, I am not experiencing annoying pauses.
All other content is organized on the More screen. Viewers can access sports, comedy, documentaries, collections and late night programming from this menu. If you still can’t find what you are looking for, try using the Search feature available from the top menu. This feature is properly implemented. Entering just one letter will produce search results. That’s essential for those who use the Apple remote and on-screen keyboard.
The Settings menu offers limited control over your HBO NOW experience, as well as access to the legal documents and basic help. Parental Controls are useful if you have young children. The Late Night options are basically soft core adult programming and there is also a lot of violent and mature content. Unfortunately, you have to visit your HBO NOW profile on another device to configure Parental Controls. The settings screen on Apple TV simply displays the current settings. You can set global restrictions on Apple TV by selecting Settings > General > Restrictions. These are separate from HBO NOW’s parental controls, however, it will only restrict access to the channel with a 4 digit passcode. Once inside, any content can be played. For more information on Apple TV’s restrictions and parental controls, please read “How to Restrict Apple TV Content and Purchases“.
Price: $14.99/month; 1 month free trial; save over $1 a month using discounted iTunes gift cards
Tip: If you find HBO NOW to be expensive, try subscribing for a few months a year. You can catch up on your favorite shows and then cancel your subscription. You can make up for the cost by canceling other services while you are binge-watching HBO NOW.
Apple TV offers History, featuring popular programs such as Pawn Stars, Gangland, and Top Gear. The network also features historical documentaries and other non-fiction programming. Content from the H2 channel is also offered within the Apple TV channel.
Founded in 1995, the network was originally known as The History Channel. History is owned by A&E, which accounts for the similarities and complimentary programming. The History Channel started out by producing and broadcasting historical documentaries, as the name suggests. Over time, the network has moved into producing popular reality shows and fringe documentaries about subjects such as aliens. At one point, the network was often referred to as the Hitler Channel, due to its vast amount of World War II documentaries. H2 is a spin-off of History, offering fringe documentaries about subjects such as monsters, the apocalypse, and ancient aliens.
History’s user interface is typical of most Apple TV channels, with a few differences. The main screen features the familiar scrolling marquee with popular programs. Programs organized by category appear below the marquee. From the top menu, users can access the H2 channel, browse programs by topics, search for content and access settings. Browsing by topics is unique to this Apple TV channel, enabling viewers to find specific information about subjects such as the Civil War, the American Revolution and British history. Activating History from the channel’s Settings menu enables access to more content.
Price: Free; more content available with activation (requires cable subscription from participating provider).
Tip: You can send programming requests to History by emailing email@example.com.
Founded in 2007, Hulu Plus is a joint venture between NBC, FOX, and ABC/Disney. If you have severed ties with the cable company, Hulu is highly recommended. The streaming service offers episodes of many popular TV shows, usually the day after they have aired.
Hulu also offers movies. While their movie selection pales in comparison to Netflix, the Criterion Collection sets them apart from other streaming providers. This collection features hundreds of critically acclaimed movies such as The Red Balloon, Eraserhead, and Modern Times. This is a must-have for film students and viewers with discriminating tastes.
Hulu and Netflix offer complimentary video content. People often wonder which service to subscribe to. It’s best to subscribe to both. While there is some overlap, the two services are distinct. Hulu offers new episodes of popular TV shows along with critically acclaimed, classic movies. Netflix offers entire collections of popular TV shows, however, apart from their own productions, they do not offer recent episodes. Netflix tends to have a better selection of popular movies.
If subscribing to both services seems costly, look at how much just one episode of a TV show costs on iTunes. Better yet, look at your cable bill. Hulu and Netflix are exceptional values. For a more detailed comparison of the two services, check out this article.
Most Hulu videos contain advertising. Some people complain that viewing commercials is unfair if they have to pay a subscription. Hulu simply can’t offer recent episodes of TV shows without subsidizing the cost through advertising. You can watch recent TV shows on iTunes without advertising, however, it is far more expensive than Hulu Plus. People often forget how much they pay for cable, which also contains advertising.
UPDATE: Hulu now offers a commercial-free plan. For $11.99 a month, viewers can enjoy all of Hulu’s content without commercials. Subscribers can still select the commercial-subsidized $7.99 plan. Hulu subscribers can also add Showtime to either plan for $8.99 per month.
Price: $7.99/mo (with commercials); $11.99/mo (commercial free)
Tip: Put your Hulu Plus membership on hold if you’re going on vacation or your favorite show goes on hiatus. This setting is available on their website under “Account”. Suspending or reactivating Hulu Plus takes effect immediately. All charges are pro-rated.
In addition to Flickr, iCloud Photos is another Apple TV content channel offering the ability to browse and display photographs. If you own other Apple products, you are probably aware that iCloud is tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem. The iCloud Photos channel for Apple TV offers an easy way to access your iCloud photos. You can browse photos and use them in a slide show or as a screen saver.
You can upload photos to iCloud without much effort. If you have an iPhone, simply launch Photos, select the photos to upload, and hit the share button. Next, tap the iCloud button, and your photos will be uploaded.
Tip: When you upload photos to iCloud, it may take a few minutes until they are accessible on Apple TV.
If you use iMovie on your Mac or iOS device, you can play these movies on your Apple TV without using AirPlay. The iMovie Theater channel for Apple TV plays any iMovie you create and upload to iCloud. To upload a movie to iCloud, simply open iMovie, tap the Sharing button and select iMovie Theater. Once the project is uploaded, you can access it directly from your Apple TV.
Tip: Don’t see iMovie Theater as a sharing option? Try updating the app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
Every September, Apple hosts the iTunes Festival. Founded in 2007, the festival is a free series of concerts that runs for an entire month. The iTunes Festival is hosted in London at The Roundhouse. Tickets are free, but they’re distributed by lottery. Due to limited availability and high demand, it’s unlikely you will win a ticket.
iTunes Festival is one of a few Apple TV channels that comes and goes. It’s not a permanent fixture on Apple TV. You can watch all of the concerts live on your Apple TV. Performances are available on demand after they air. Artists such as Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Elton John have performed at the iTunes Festival. It’s not just a pop festival. The festival covers a wide array of musical genres, including hip hop, alternative, metal, classical and jazz. Make sure to watch the concerts while you can, because the iTunes Festival channel will eventually disappear.
In March 2014, Apple hosted the iTunes Festival at SXSW in Austin, Texas. This seems to be an addition to the festival, along with the September event in London.
The iTunes Festival is once again in session. Performances are being held at the Roundhouse in London. This year’s festival includes artists such as Beck, Pharrell Williams, Robert Plant, and Mary J. Blige. As always, you can view the shows live and on demand on your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iTunes on your computer. For more information, visit Apple’s iTunes Festival website.
Tip: Use the official iTunes Festival app to submit an application for tickets.
iTunes Radio is the best interactive radio platform. With over 27 million songs, no other service comes close. Shortly after its arrival on iTunes and iOS devices, iTunes Radio launched on Apple TV. Listeners can easily navigate the menus, skip songs and enter preferences using the simple Apple remote.
iTunes Radio learns what you like, and in time, plays what you like. The more you interact with iTunes radio, the better it becomes. Users can skip up to 6 tracks per hour and select “play more like this” and “never play this song”. As iTunes Radio learns from this behavior, it plays more music that you like.
Users can purchase songs directly from iTunes Radio, however, the service is free. The service uses advertising to subsidise content costs.
Tip: If iTunes Radio appears to have stalled, it’s not a crash. iTunes Radio for Apple TV plays video commercials. These may take a few seconds to load. For more iTunes Radio tips for Apple TV, check out this article.
KORTV is more of a portal than an Apple TV channel. This single channel encompasses 17 free and premium Korean TV channels. Viewers can watch live Korean television broadcasts in addition to playing video on demand. I was unable to find any content in English, however, this is an excellent channel for Korean nationals and expatriates. Anyone studying the Korean language will also find this content portal useful.
KORTV is exclusive to Apple products. No other streaming devices offer this service. KORTV content can also be accessed on other Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Price: most live channels are free; $1.99 to $3.99 for premium channels; $4.99 subscription for video on demand.
Tip: Browse the live TV schedule to find out when your favorite program airs.
The Lifetime channel for Apple TV offers programming geared toward female viewers. Popular Lifetime shows include Supernanny, Dance Moms, and How I Met Your Mother.
Founded in 1984, Lifetime is now owned by A&E. The network started as a merger between the Daytime network, which featured programming for women, and the Cable Health Network, featuring health and wellness programming. In the late 1980s, Lifetime featured talk shows with hosts such as Regis Philbin and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. After this phase, Lifetime began rebroadcasting programs such as Moonlighting and L.A. Law, in addition to airing original movies. Finally, in 1993, Lifetime took on the role of broadcasting television for the female viewer.
Apple TV’s Lifetime channel offers a standard and familiar user interface. A scrolling marquee on the main screen displays popular programming. Shows grouped by categories are featured below the marquee. From the top menu, users can select Movies, Search or Settings. The Movies menu option offers many original Lifetime movies. Users with participating cable providers can activate the Lifetime Apple TV channel, enabling access to more content.
Price: Free; more content available with activation (requires cable subscription from participating provider).
Tip: If you missed your favorite Lifetime program on TV, you can usually watch it the next day on Lifetime for Apple TV.
Fashionistas finally have their own dedicated Apple TV channel. The M2M, or Made to Measure channel provides programming centered around fashion and modeling. Best of all, everything on M2M is absolutely free!
The M2M channel, launched by WMG/IMG, is exclusive to Apple TV. There is no cable channel or online counterpart — not even a website. WMG/IMG is an entertainment and sports management company that runs fashion weeks throughout the world.
The main screen features the standard scrolling marquee with promoted content. Viewers can also browse videos organized by categories such as Featured, Fashion Films & Documentaries and Designers & The Runway. The bottom of the main screen offers a menu of Fashion Week shows grouped by cities — New York, London, Milan and Paris.
The Series screen offers M2M programs. Shows include Tea at the Beatrice with Glenn O’Brien, Iconic and In and Out of Fashion with Laura Brown. With a total of seven series, M2M does not offer a huge collection of programming. Given that the network focuses on fashion, the content provided is ample and comprehensive.
The Films screen offers documentaries and movies about fashion. If you are interested in learning more about fashion icons like Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Kate Moss, the limited selection of feature films may pique your interest.
The Designers screen presents a grid of famous fashion designers. Clicking on an icon takes the user to a screen of related videos for each designer. Viewers can see recent creations and related programs of each designer. M2M offers content for more than 35 designers, including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.
The search menu provides the standard Apple TV search interface. It’s handy, but given that M2M doesn’t offer a huge amount of content, browsing by the content screens should suffice. M2M doesn’t offer a settings screen. The channel is fairly simple and straightforward.
Tip: Find out what’s new with your favorite designers by browsing the Designers screen.
Fans of Major League Baseball can enjoy their favorite sport on Apple TV. This content channel provides viewers with live baseball games and clips. Users can also browse standings and scores. Games are offered in HD quality and users can even watch select Spring Training games. Unfortunately, one cannot watch every game, as blackout restrictions apply.
Price: $24.99/year; standings, scores and clips are free
Tip: Enjoy your MLB.TV subscription on other devices — iOS, Android, Roku, web browser, XBOX 360, Playstation 3, and more.
Major League Soccer is gaining in popularity, and fans can now watch their favorite sport directly on Apple TV. The MLS channel offers live soccer matches, in addition to shows and highlight clips. As with most sports channels, blackout restrictions apply.
The user interface is simple and intuitive. Users can browse contents by club and view statistics. One can even hide scores in order to avoid spoiling a game (settings > scores).
Price: $14.99/mo; some free clips available
Tip: Download the MLS MatchDay App for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and watch MLS games anywhere.
Viewing iTunes content has been a mainstay of Apple TV. The Movies channel offers a way to browse, rent and purchase movies from iTunes directly on Apple TV. iTunes offers some of the best new movies, often before they are available from other services.
The Movies channel offers a quick and easy interface for browsing movies. Users can navigate selections by browsing top rated movies, genres, genius recommendations or searching. Previews are offered for every movie, so you can see if it’s worth renting or buying. The Movies channel also features detailed reviews from iTunes users as well as Rotten Tomatoes. Clicking the “More” button on each movie provides detailed reviews. It also displays an interactive list of the movie’s actors, which can help you find other movies with your favorite star.
Price: varies — movies can be rented or purchased; previews are free
Tip: Use Yidio to find out if a movie is available on Netflix, Hulu Plus, or other streaming service. You may be able to watch it for much less than iTunes. Yidio is a multi-platform portal for discovering video content across many different services.
Apple TV can play your iTunes music collection directly from the cloud. Any iTunes purchase, be it music, movies, or TV shows, can be played directly from Apple TV. You can also purchase music directly using Apple TV.
The Music channel has a surprisingly innovative interface. The Apple remote is a simple device. It only has a few buttons. Nonetheless, one can browse music, add music to the Up Next playlist, shuffle, alter the order of tracks and manage other aspects of Music playback, all with a simple remote. The album cover is displayed on your TV while the music is playing. You can multitask and navigate Apple TV’s menus and channels with music playing in the background. Music has come a long way since Apple TV’s debut.
Price: Free to use; Music must be purchased from iTunes
Tip: If you have imported your own CDs into iTunes, an iTunes Match subscription can add them to iCloud. From there, you can play them directly on Apple TV. You can also play your imported CDs from iTunes using AirPlay. You can transfer imported CDs onto an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch and also play these on Apple TV using AirPlay.
National Geographic is one of the most respected magazines covering geography, culture and history. The magazine, founded in 1888, has been published for almost 130 years and reaches 6.8 million subscribers per month. The National Geographic channel, trademarked as Nat Geo, was originally launched in the UK, Europe and Australia in 1997. By 2001, it found a home on American cable and satellite networks. Unlike the magazine, its televised counterpart is oriented towards sensational and contemporary programming.
NatGeo TV for Apple TV is a simple channel which doesn’t have much to offer the cord-cutter. Like many Apple TV channels, it requires activation with a TV provider (cable, satellite, telco) for full access. Short clips with the label “Digital Exclusive” and Featured Clips on the main screen can be viewed without activation. Popular shows include Animals Gone Wild, Cesar 911, and The Big Picture with Kal Penn.
The Featured menu serves as the main screen for NatGeo TV. The screen displays a scrolling marquee at the top, providing quick access to featured content. Video selections are arranged in a grid below the marquee, organized by Featured Episodes, Featured Shows, and Featured Clips.
Thirty three shows are available from the shows menu. Selecting a show displays available episodes. NatGeo TV does not offer every episode. Only recently aired episodes are available, and the selection changes regularly.
The Categories screen offers users the ability to find clips by categories such as Highlights, Adventure, Technology and other categories. These clips do not require activation with a TV provider. If you are a cord cutter, the Categories screen is useful. It also offers an auto-play feature. Simply start a clip, and NatGeo TV will play all of the video clips in that category.
NatGeo TV does not offer a search feature. The Settings menu offers a Sign In feature, however activation must be completed with a web browser. The Sign In feature displays an activation code and activation instructions. Access to legal agreements and support are also available from the Settings menu.
Price: requires activation with TV provider (cable, satellite or telco); clips available to all users
Tip: You can view many Nat Geo programs without activation on Netflix and iTunes.
Basketball fans can enjoy live games and on demand highlights with the NBA channel for Apple TV. The games are displayed in 720p HD, if your Internet connection is fast enough. As with all sports channels, blackouts do apply.
The NBA channel offers some innovative features that go beyond watching the game on cable. Users can choose which team’s broadcast to watch. You can hear your favorite team’s announcer, no matter who they’re playing. Viewers can even watch up to four games at once. The channel even offers the ability to browse standings and other statistics.
Price: $199 for all 30 teams; $139.99 for 5 favorite teams; standings and highlights available without a subscription
Tip: Too expensive? You can pay for the subscription in 5 installments.
As streaming video becomes more mainstream, major networks are starting to jump on the bandwagon. NBC already offers its shows via Hulu, in addition to adjunct Apple TV channels such as CNBC and NBC Sports Live Extra. The “Peacock” has finally launched its flagship NBC network on Apple TV, with limited episodes available for cord-cutters.
NBC is the oldest major network in the U.S. It was founded by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1926 as a radio broadcaster. The network has changed ownership a few times over the years. They were acquired by General Electric in 1986 and remained a division of GE until 2003. Vivendi purchased NBC, merging the network with Universal. In 2011, Comcast acquired NBC Universal and remains the current owner of the network. Comcast is the largest cable provider in the United States. This puts them at odds with streaming devices such as Apple TV. Nonetheless, the NBC channel for Apple TV is actually friendly to cord-cutters. Comcast is also one of the largest Internet service providers in the nation.
The NBC channel for Apple TV offers the standard main screen with a scrolling marquee on top. Videos are arranged in a grid below the marquee. The top row of videos displays shows available without signing in (which requires a TV provider subscription). These are all current episodes of top NBC TV shows such as The Blacklist, Heroes Reborn and Blindspot. TV episodes are presented with commercials. Videos on the main screen are organized into the following categories: Latest Episodes, Season Premiers and The Latest in Late Night.
The Shows menu provides convenient access to popular NBC programs. Not every NBC show is available on Apple TV. The NBC channel hides inaccessible content for users who are not signed in. This is much better than clicking on a program only to find out that you need a cable subscription to view it. Unfortunately, without a cable subscription, there are missing shows and episodes. NBC is still remarkably generous to cord-cutters, especially considering that they are owned by Comcast. Viewers can start watching a show from the premier and keep watching to enjoy full seasons of some NBC programs without a TV provider subscription. Unfortunately, since the NBC channel launched at the end of October, some shows already have missing episodes.
Search provides the standard Apple TV search interface. Simply use the on-screen keyboard or Remote app to find NBC programs. The on-screen keyboard will suffice for most users. One only has to enter a few characters to get results.
The Settings menu provides instructions for activation, support and legal agreements. Viewers with a TV provider (cable, satellite or U-Verse) must use a web browser and the on-screen activation code to activate the channel. Upon activation, users will have access to more content.
Price: limited free content; requires TV provider
Tip: If you don’t have a TV provider, you can access more episodes using Hulu or iTunes.
NBC Sports Live Extra
Apple TV continues adding channels appealing to sports fans. The latest addition, NBC Sports Live Extra, allows fans to watch live sporting events, replays and highlight clips.
NBC Sports Live Extra is the latest addition to a long tradition of sportscasting, dating back to 1939. Back then, an experimental television station broadcast a collegiate baseball game between Princeton and Columbia. This station later became an NBC affiliate. Through the years, NBC Sports has grown and diversified. Now you can enjoy NBC Sports directly on your Apple TV. Users without a TV provider (cable, satellite or telco) will get limited use out of this Apple TV channel.
The Featured menu, which is the main screen, doesn’t offer the standard scrolling marquee. Instead, viewers are presented with a grid of video icons categorized by Live & Upcoming, Featured Highlights and Featured Replays. The Live & Upcoming videos will only work if the live program is currently available.
After activating the Apple TV channel, viewers can enjoy live programs from the Live & Upcoming menu. The menu displays a schedule of live events on the right, with details of the selected event shown on the left.
If you don’t have a participating cable or satellite TV provider, the Highlights menu is your best option. Viewers can enjoy short clips of sporting events from NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL, Premier League and more.
The Replays menu offers an innovative user interface. Viewers can select options on the left to filter the video grid on the right. Videos selections be refined by sport or by date. Replays are only offered to users who have activated the channel. Viewers can also find videos organized by sport in the Sports menu. Since there is no search feature, this is probably the best option to easily find content.
Activation of the NBC Sports Live Extra channel is done via a web browser. Unlike other Apple TV channels, this cannot be done directly on Apple TV. The Sign In option on the Settings menu is a bit misleading. Viewers do not sign in here. Instead, one must navigate to a website and enter an activation code, which is displayed on Apple TV. The Settings menu offers help and support, instructing viewers to use email or go to Twitter for assistance. Legal agreements and the version number are also accessible from the Settings menu.
Price: requires activation with TV provider (cable, satellite, telco) for most content; highlight clips available to all viewers
Tip: For NBC Sports on-the-go, try the NBC Sports Live Extra app in the App Store.
Netflix was the first third-party video subscription service added to Apple TV. The streaming video provider has completely changed the way many of us watch movies and TV. The service features thousands of movies and TV shows, available with a few clicks. Netflix even creates their own critically acclaimed programs, such as House of Cards, Arrested Development and Lilyhammer.
Having used Netflix on Apple TV for a few years, I can honestly say it’s quite robust. I almost forget I’m watching a streaming service. They do have the occasional hiccup, but it seems to be even more reliable than my previous cable provider.
The user interface for Netflix is simple and easy to use. Once you click on the channel, you can pick a profile, if you’ve created multiple profiles. Profiles are a great way to share one Netflix subscription. Users can browse through programs grouped by recently watched, genres, TV shows, new releases, kids and suggestions. If all else fails, you can search for what you’re looking for. You can even go to their website and manage “My List” with your web browser. The changes will show up on Apple TV.
The Netflix channel for Apple TV offers the same auto-play feature found on the web version. You can watch continuous episodes of a series without having to touch your remote. When an episode has completed, the show will minimize and Apple TV presents the viewer with the option to play the next episode or view other episodes. If the user does nothing, the next episode plays automatically.
Once in a while, between episodes, Netflix will confirm if you are still watching. This is an efficient practice. In the big picture, unattended viewing is a waste of resources. Netflix is now 30% of Internet traffic in the U.S. during peak hours. They need to make sure that they are streaming to people who are actually watching and not sleeping on the sofa.
Netflix syncs up with all of your devices. If you start watching a show on Apple TV, you can resume the program on your iPhone, computer or other device.
Price: $7.99/mo (up to 2 screens at a time); $11.99/mo (up to 4 screens at a time)
Tip: Make sure to watch your favorite programs on Netflix as soon as possible. Netflix content is not permanently licensed. Older and less popular programs are often replaced with newer content.
Football is the most popular American sport, with approximately 200 million Americans viewing at least one game. The Super Bowl is the most popular television event in America. The NFL channel for Apple TV now offers access to out-of-market live games.
Out-of-market means that you will only be able to watch live games for teams outside of your area. For example, if you live in San Francisco, you will not be able to see 49ers games live with NFL Game Pass. You can only watch them after they are broadcast.
NFL football is a valuable commodity. Deals between the NFL and the broadcasting industry ensure that high-tech access to football will only be an adjunct at best. Every other major sport has stepped into the 21st century, while the NFL continues to hold out on streaming all live games. Nonetheless, allowing subscription access to out-of-market games is a huge step forward.
The Home screen features the familiar scrolling marquee common to most Apple TV channels. The moving panel displays top-level content categories such as Game Pass, Most Popular, and NFL Now. Beneath the marquee, games and videos are organized in a grid, categorized by Games, NFL Now and Most Popular.
The top menu offers three options: Games, NFL Now and Settings. The NFL channel has no search functionality. The Games screen features a comprehensive archive of NFL matches, in addition to access to live games. If you want to watch a full game from 2012 to today, you can access this content with a Game Pass subscription. Live games are displayed with the kickoff time, and can also be accessed with a Game Pass subscription.
The NFL Now menu option provides access to live content. The screen displays a summary of the current live broadcast. Not all of this content requires a Game Pass subscription. Anyone can watch sports talk shows, like The Rich Eisen Show, for free.
The Settings screen enables users to sign in, purchase or restore Game Pass subscriptions, view terms of service and access customer support. I recommend purchasing a Game Pass subscription through iTunes because you can use discounted iTunes gift cards and save almost 20%. I also find managing the subscription (renewals and cancellation) to be much easier using the iTunes store. The customer support option simply instructs the user to visit the NFL website for more information.
Price: free; $99.99/season for NFL Game Pass subscription
Tip: If you are a cord cutter it is still possible to watch in-market NFL games. You can go to a friend’s house, a sports bar or the gym. It may be possible to pick up games with an antenna connected to your flat-screen TV. Some of the major networks’ iOS apps (NBC, ABC, CBS) offer live streaming of sporting events. You can use AirPlay to beam these to your Apple TV.
UPDATE: The NFL Apple TV Channel now provides access to live out-of market games. Apple TV users can subscribe to a whole season of Game Pass for only $99.99. Keep in mind, some games will not be available, as they are broadcast on TV. However, these games will be added to the archive later. This means even football fans can cut the cord, but keep the antenna! Game Pass subscriptions will also work on your iPhone, iPad or Android device with the NFL Mobile app.
The NHL channel is another great way to enjoy sports on Apple TV. Viewers can watch live National Hockey League games, in addition to clips. The selection of clips is quite impressive, with historic games from decades ago.
The clean and simple interface makes it easy for users to browse standings and find games by date or team. Live games and clips are available in HD, depending on the speed of your Internet connection. Users can choose between the home and away broadcast. If you missed a game, you can watch a replay. As with all sports channels, games are subject to blackouts.
Tip: A subscription to GameCenter Live also works on the iPhone, iPad, web browsers and other platforms.
Apple TV is home to numerous sports channels. The addition of 120 Sports provides a quick access to information and highlights for your favorite sports. Unlike most Apple TV channels, 120 Sports has no broadcast or cable counterpart. It is solely digital and only accessible online and with apps.
Launching in June of 2014, 120 Sports is a newcomer and faces a lot of competition. The Chicago-based corporation has hit the ground running, looking to capture mobile users and cord-cutters. Their competitors have made this easier, as most require a TV provider subscription (cable, satellite, telco) for full access to their content. 120 Sports is completely free and features an innovative user interface for Apple TV. The company is a partnership between Time Inc., NHL, MLB.com, NBA, NASCAR and Campus Insiders.
The Dashboard is the main screen for 120 Sports. Unlike most Apple TV channel, there is no scrolling marquee. Instead, videos are organized in a grid of thumbnails. The first row, Timeline, is very innovative. It allows users to watch the live broadcast, as well as access recent aired content in chronological order. Users will notice that this row of videos updates frequently. You can just start the first video to watch the live broadcast. Catch-Up videos appear below the Timeline, allowing access to older content. Users can also browse the Timeline and Catch-Up directly from their own screens by using the top menu.
The settings menu offers information about 120 Sports and access to the legal agreements. Users can also toggle the auto-advance feature, which automatically plays videos. This feature is on by default.
Tip: Download the 120 Sports mobile app for on-the-go sports coverage.
The PBS channel is one of my favorite additions to Apple TV. Before the channel was added, one could play PBS content using their app for iOS, which supported AirPlay. With the new Apple TV channel, viewers have thousands of hours of quality programming at their fingertips. I use this app regularly to watch new episodes of Downton Abbey and informative programs such as the PBS NewsHour, Nova and Frontline.
The PBS channel requires a free one-time activation. Simply follow the instructions on your Apple TV screen to activate your account. This will also customize the PBS channel to receive content from your local affiliate. You’ll get local PBS shows, in addition to nationally syndicated content.
The user interface is a pleasure to use. PBS has a lot of content. I never realized how much content they create and acquire. Thankfully, you can browse shows in alphabetical order or search for your favorite program. Once you’ve found your favorite shows, adding them to My Videos provides easy access.
Tip: Popular shows like Downton Abbey are only available for a few weeks. Make sure to watch them as soon as possible.
Many of us have grown up watching shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company. The next generation of children can now enjoy these same shows, on demand, with the PBS Kids channel for Apple TV.
Activation is required before viewing the PBS Kids channel. It is completely free to activate the channel, and the process only takes a few minutes. First, open the PBS Kids channel and select “Activate your Apple TV”. Next, open a web browser and go to http://pbskids.org/activate. From here, you can enter the activation code displayed on your television. After this is entered, you can sign in to PBS using Facebook, Google+ or a PBS account. Once completed, press the menu button on your Apple TV remote and you can start watching PBS Kids programming.
The opening screen displays featured programs, with a scrolling marquee. This channel was clearly designed for kids. The icons are huge, making it easy for kids to access programming by themselves. This makes it easier for parents and kids gain a feeling of accomplishment and independence. You don’t have to worry about your kids viewing anything inappropriate. In fact, it is possible to add parental controls to Apple TV, so you don’t have to worry about inappropriate content on other channels. Weekly picks are shown beneath the marquee, allowing easy access to select videos.
The Shows screen displays all of the popular PBS kids programs. PBS offers 28 different shows for kids on Apple TV, including popular programs like Arthur, Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Each individual show screen allows viewers to play all or individual episodes, in addition to adding the show to favorites. Favorites appear at the top of the Shows screen with an extra-large icon. The individual show screens also provide information about recommended ages and educational goals for each program.
The Settings page allows users to donate, view legal information, report issues with closed captioning, and deactivate the PBS Kids channel. The closed captioning support is interesting and something that isn’t available on most other channels. If you find a program has missing or incorrect captioning, you can report this to PBS directly.
Price: free, donation optional
Tip: If your child is very young and has trouble using the channel, try adding shows as favorites. Favorites appear at the top of the Shows screen with larger icons.
Podcasts are often overlooked, but provide a wide array of free content for your Apple TV. Using the Podcasts channel, you can watch or listen to almost 100,000 podcasts.
The user interface makes it easy to enjoy your favorite podcasts. Browse podcasts by genres, providers, top podcasts or search the enormous collection. When you find a podcast you like, you can subscribe to it. This adds the podcast under My Stations and updates the station as new podcasts are added.
Tip: Podcasts are a great way to get your news on Apple TV. I subscribe to the NBC Nightly News video podcast, which is updated every evening. NPR has five minute audio podcasts updated every hour.
If you love concerts, but don’t like going out, Qello is perfect for you. The online service streams hundreds of concerts in their entirety. Videos are available in HD format. Qello’s content selection is complimentary to other streaming video services, such as Netlix and iTunes. They offer concerts that you won’t find on these services.
In addition to concerts, Qello also features music documentaries and behind the scenes videos. Qello’s catalog is eclectic and diverse, covering music from the 1920’s to today.
The Quello user interface makes it easy to find your favorite concert or documentary. You can browse by genre, watch QelloTV, check out recent additions, view set lists and search. The home screen features a spotlight view, which groups videos by categories such as featured, new releases and genres.
Price: $4.99/month or $44.99/year
Tip: Try Qello for free with their 7 day trial offer.
Apple TV offers quite a few choices for enjoying music. The Radio channel features hundreds of Internet radio stations. Many of these stations have been around for years. Some are terrestrial broadcast stations that stream their live programming online. The Radio channel is not the same thing as iTunes Radio. It is not interactive. It just plays Internet radio streams.
Radio features a simple and easy to use interface. Listeners can browse stations based on categories. When you find a station you like, add it to Favorites, and it will appear on the top of the screen when you launch Radio. Radio allows users to multitask, playing music while navigating Apple TV’s menus.
Tip: Connect your Apple TV or flat screen TV to a stereo and enjoy music in high fidelity.
Red Bull TV
The Red Bull energy drink company was founded in 1984 and is now the most popular energy drink in the world. Like many corporations, Red Bull sponsors sporting teams and events to market their product. Expanding on their foothold in extreme and unusual sports, Red Bull launched their online TV channel, providing entertainment and building brand awareness. Red Bull TV is now a fixture on Apple TV.
Red Bull TV focuses on extreme and unusual sports and music. The screen resembles many Apple TV channels, with a scrolling marquee located above a grid of videos. The top menu bar allows users to browse live broadcasts, sports, music, and global challenges. Users can also search the video catalog. Red Bull TV doesn’t feature a 24 hour live broadcast, however, users can stream live programming when available.
Red Bull TV’s selection of sporting events is unique. Featured events tend to be extreme and unusual, such as skateboarding, surfing, motorcycle racing and even psychedelic golf. There are individual channels for each sporting category. World-wide challenges, such as the Air Race World Championship, are located in the Global Challenges section on the top menu.
Red Bull TV features music content, but it’s not just songs and music videos. Instead, the channel offers innovative music programs such as Rock the Route, Sound and Vision, Red Bull BD One World Finals, Exit Vine, Moneybrother, and Hashtags. These shows look at more unusual aspects of music. For example, Moneybrother is a show about a Swedish pop musician travelling the world while producing his new album. The best thing about Red Bull TV is that the content is unique. You won’t find this programming anywhere else.
Tip: Browse the Live category (top menu) to find broadcast times for live programming.
The Showtime channel for Apple TV offers a free 30-day trial on the opening screen. The “Start Your 30-Day FREE Trial” option is pre-selected. To begin the trial, simply press the center select button on your Apple TV remote. If you signed up for Showtime on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or computer, you can sign in or restore your iTunes purchase from the opening screen.
Your Showtime subscription will work on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or any computer with a recent web browser. Keep in mind, if you start your Showtime subscription on Apple TV, the purchase is made through iTunes. You can cancel your subscription by turning off auto-renewals 24 hours before the next billing date. For more information, please read How to Turn Off iTunes Auto-Renewal Subscriptions. You can also pay for any iTunes subscription with discounted iTunes gift cards. This is a great way to save over 8% on any iTunes based subscription.
After selecting the 30-day free trial, the user must enter the email address associated with their Apple ID. This should be pre-populated. If not, you may want to use the Apple Remote app to enter the email address. For most people, the on-screen keyboard is sufficient, but cumbersome. Once the email address is submitted, one must accept a legal agreement to proceed. The next step prompts the user to sign in with their Apple ID. Simply select the “Sign In” option to proceed. Finally, confirm the subscription by selecting “Subscribe”. After the trial period, Showtime will automatically bill $10.99 per month. The final screen gives the viewer the choice to start watching or provide information about themselves. The latter option will help Showtime make suggestions.
The Showtime channel for Apple TV offers featured content in the scrolling marquee. Popular Showtime programs include Dexter, Shameless and Homeland. Beneath the marquee, videos options are organized by categories — Featured Series, Featured Movies, Featured Sports, Featured Comedy, Featured Reality/Docs, Collections and My List. The last category provides quick access to recently watched or added programs, in addition to shows added by the Series Manager. Placing My List at the bottom of the main screen seems inconvenient, but you can access My List from the top menu bar.
The Categories menu makes it easy to find Showtime programs. Instead of the typical grid of video icons, this screen is menu driven. Users can browse content by Series, Movies, Sports, Comedy, Reality/Docs, After Hours and Coming Soon. After selecting the menu item, Showtime displays a split screen of video icons and filters, making it easy to browse or refine selections. Selecting a program presents the user with different options depending on whether it is a series or single program, such as a movie. With a series, one can browse individual episodes or add new episodes to My List. It is possible to add a single episode to My List from the episode’s screen. Movies and single episode programs can be added to My List by selecting the Add option.
My List provides convenient access to programs added to the queue. Programs are organized by Recently Watched, All Added and Series Manager. The first two options are self-explanatory, but the Series Manager is unique to Showtime. This feature basically adds new episodes of a show to the list as they are released.
For those who have cut the cord but still miss their cable box, the Live TV option may be appealing. I personally don’t like organizing my life around a TV schedule and prefer on-demand. I don’t miss channel surfing at all. Nonetheless, Showtime provides access to their East and West Coast live TV streams. The screen also displays a browsable schedule.
The Search menu option offers the standard Apple TV search capabilities, with a slight twist. The search results display different icons for shows and movies. Movies appear as a narrow icon, similar to a DVD box. Episodes of a series are displayed with wide dimensions, similar to a wide-screen TV. This makes it a little easier to differentiate between shows and movies.
Access to account information, restrictions, help and legal information are provided on the Settings menu. Users can also clear their viewing history, which is unique to Showtime on Apple TV. Some of these options, such as account, restrictions and help, are just pointers to online resources. If Showtime’s viewing restrictions are not sufficient for your family’s needs, you can use Apple TV’s restrictions. Users can also sign out from the Settings menu.
Price: $10.99/mo with a 30-day free trial; $8.99 a month with Hulu subscription bundle
Tip: Download the Showtime app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for on-the-go viewing.
Showtime is one of the leading pay cable networks, offering recent movies, original shows, sports and much more. Founded in 1976, Showtime was the first competitor to HBO, offering another choice for premium cable content. The network rapidly expanded from 55,000 subscribers in 1976 to 28 million subscribers today. Much like HBO, the network produces original programming. Some of the more popular Showtime originals include Homeland, Dexter, Weeds and Californication.
The Showtime Anytime channel is one of the best-designed premium cable offerings for Apple TV. For full access, viewers must have a subscription to Showtime from a supported cable, satellite or telecom provider. At the time of this writing, 21 different TV providers support Showtime activation on Apple TV. Even without activation, Showtime offers some free episodes. It’s a great way to discover new shows. If you don’t subscribe to Showtime, most shows are available on iTunes, Netflix or other providers.
The main screen displays the typical scrolling marquee with featured programs at the top. Below the main screen, one can browse free episodes, which are available without activation. The main screen also displays featured series, movies, sports, comedy and documentaries. Selecting a video displays the detail screen, which resembles Apple’s Movies and TV Shows channels. Users can play the video or click on “more” to see related programs.
The Categories menu option allows users to browse content grouped by series, movies, sports, comedy, reality/documentary, after hours and “coming soon”. This screen resembles the main Netflix screen, with carousel of “box covers” rotating on the left and a menu on the right.
Viewers can watch the live Showtime broadcast by selecting Live from the top menu. This option displays the typical Apple TV interface for viewing live broadcasts, with a chronological schedule. Viewers can select either Showtime West or Showtime East, which differ due to time zones. The ability to view the live Showtime channel sets it apart from HBO GO.
The ability to manage series, recently watched and favorite programs with My List also differentiates Showtime Anytime from HBO GO. Showtime users can click on the My List menu option to quickly access favorite and recently watched shows. These preferred programs can be added to My List from the detail screen of a particular show or episode.
Showtime Anytime also offers the ability to search. This works like the search feature on most Apple TV channels. The Settings menu allows users to access information about the Showtime channel, such as FAQs and legal information. Users can also activate Showtime Anytime from the Settings menu.
Price: requires activation with Showtime subscription from a cable, satellite or telecom provider; some free content available
Tip: If you do not have a Showtime subscription, iTunes and Netflix have most Showtime original shows. The free episodes on the Showtime Anytime channel are a great way to discover new Showtime series.
The Smithsonian Channel features documentaries and other non-fiction content. It’s a great option for people who enjoy learning about science and history. The content is mostly comprised of short clips, with some full-length features.
Navigating this channel is easy, however, it seems to be lacking a few helpful features. There’s no menu options or search functionality. The main screen features a grid of icons, each representing a program. Video selections are grouped into categories. Since there isn’t an enormous amount of content, this user interface is adequate. When a video is finished, the channel will automatically play another video.
Tip: The Smithsonian Channel is a great option for children’s programming.
The Sky News channel for Apple TV features a 24-hour live newscast, in addition to on demand video options. Based in the UK, Sky News offers international news with a focus on the UK. Even with the UK-centric approach, I find Sky News to be an excellent source of information. It’s always interesting to see how the rest of the world views the United States.
Unlike CNN, Sky News offers a more professional newscast, absent of screen-dominating graphics and the dramatic false alarms of unimportant “breaking news”. Advertisements are minimal, and a global weather report is provided regularly.
The Sky News menu allows for easy access to the live stream and on demand content. The main screen features popular programs and clips, available on demand.
Tip: If you want the most recent news at any time, tune in to the live Sky News feed. The 24-hour broadcast is always up-to-date without infomercials or other paid programming.
One of the reasons I cancelled cable is because, while flipping through the channels, there was an over-abundance of food channels (and a lack of anything entertaining). Apple TV has a notable dearth of food-specific channels, however, one can find great culinary programs on PBS and other channels. With the addition of Tastemade, Apple TV now has a dedicated food channel.
Tastemade is quite different from the typical food channel. The network is entirely digital, with no presence on cable or satellite. Programming is mostly developed by Tastemakers — popular chefs and foodies of the social media realm. The network is geared toward a younger audience and is a fresh take on culinary programming.
The Tastemade Apple TV channel offers a very simple user interface. There is only a main screen and a search screen. The main Tastemade screen offers the familiar scrolling marquee with a grid of videos below. Featured episodes, shows and culinary city guides are available. There isn’t an abundance of content, as the network is relatively new. Drilling down into a show presents the user with access to individual episodes.
The search feature seems to be ineffective. I searched for the word “hamburger” to no avail. You pretty much need to know the name of the show you are searching for, as it appears only the show titles and summaries are indexed.
Tip: If Tastemade leaves you hungry for more food shows, check out shows such as America’s Test Kitchen, A Chef’s Life and dozens more on PBS for Apple TV.
For those who enjoy lectures and presentations, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has a new home on Apple TV. Founded in 1984 by the non-profit Sapling Foundation, TED has grown beyond conferences into a media phenomenon. The conference attracts some of the brightest minds on the planet, including Bill Gates, Malcolm Gladwell and Larry Page. Now you can enjoy presentations from highly important and influential people directly on your Apple TV.
The TED channel for Apple TV has a new twist. A row of labels, positioned below the scrolling marquee, offers innovative access to content. Viewers can immediately access a video by selecting a label such as random, funny, persuasive, jaw-dropping, inspiring and courageous. Videos and playlists are also available on the main screen, organized in a grid.
Complete access to TED videos is available using the Talks menu. The screen offers videos organized by recent talks, technology, love, education, leadership, happiness, and design. These categories are indicative of typical TED subject matter. The screen offers a new multi-panel video selection user interface. When you scroll to the right, it will take you to a new panel of videos, instead of scrolling them column-by-column. TED has accomplished the most innovative Apple TV channel design.
Innovative design is also present on the Playlists menu. Apple TV channels typically don’t offer curated playlists for videos. TED offers 75 playlists covering subjects such as humor, public speaking and gardening.
Tip: Do you need to give a speech or presentation and feel intimidated? Watch some TED talks to improve your public speaking abilities.
Tennis Channel Everywhere
Apple TV has another great offering for sports fans — Tennis Channel Everywhere. Founded by a group of investors, including Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, the Tennis Channel offers comprehensive and authoritative coverage of the sport. The Tennis Channel began cable broadcasts in 2003. It’s online offering, Tennis Channel Everywhere, was made available to computers and mobile devices before its addition to the Apple TV lineup.
Tennis Channel Everywhere resembles most other Apple TV channels, with the familiar scrolling marquee on the first screen. Recent video clips, such as interviews and match highlights, are displayed below the marquee. These videos are available to all viewers and can be played without activating the channel.
Live games can be accessed from the Tennis Channel menu. This screen displays the current schedule on the right. Viewers must activate Tennis Channel Everywhere with a TV provider in order to watch live matches. For those who really love tennis, a subscription to Tennis Channel Plus offers access to many more matches played throughout the world. The Tennis Channel Plus subscription also provides hundreds of matches, on demand. These include classic matches played decades ago. The On Demand menu has a unique user interface, with a table of contents on the left and video thumbnails on the right.
Price: some free content; requires activation with TV provider for more access; Tennis Channel Plus costs $69.99 for a 12 month subscription.
Tips: Download the Tennis Channel Everywhere app to enjoy matches on the go.
Fifty years ago, The Beatles made their American debut on the Ed Sullivan show. Apple is commemorating this event with a dedicated Apple TV channel. Viewers can enjoy classic Beatles performances from the Ed Sullivan show. A complete collection of The Beatles’ albums, available on iTunes, is also accessible via the Apple TV channel. Enjoy this channel while you can. This is one of a few temporary channels that will disappear in a few weeks.
The Beatles Channel features a simple user interface. Users can play a 14 minute clip from the February 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan show featuring the songs “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You”, “She Loves You”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. The Beatles’ albums are featured below the video clip summary. Users can browse all of the albums, which are available for purchase on iTunes. Each album contains a track listing. Every track offers a free 90-second preview, which is a great way to listen to an album before buying it. Simply select the track and press the play button on your remote to listen to a preview. Tracks can also be purchased individually.
Price: Free, albums and tracks require iTunes purchases
Tip: You can listen to The Beatles for free on iTunes Radio.
The Scene, like a few other Apple TV channels, has no cable or broadcast counterpart. It is a video portal providing clips and shows curated from a variety of networks. The Scene is operated by Condé Naste Entertainment. Their mission is to provide popular videos that people are talking about. This is an Apple TV channel where viewers can find something fresh and new every day. It seems like an innovative way to organize video content. The Scene is a video portal featuring professional content instead of user-uploaded videos. It is similar to Vevo, without the focus on music videos. The Scene hosts content from providers such as Wired, PBS, and GQ. It’s a mashup of TV networks, magazines, and online content providers.
The Scene offers a very simple Apple TV channel. From the main menu, one can access featured videos from the scrolling marquee. Content providers are accessible from a grid of icons below the marquee. Selecting a content provider displays a detail screen with videos organized into categories. While The Scene only has a few top-level menu options, drilling down into content providers offers more options. The channel is deceptively simple. Upon further exploration, every content provider is almost like a mini Apple TV channel of its own.
The Categories menu offers a list of about 20 different subjects. Topics such as Entertainment, Humor and Animals are available. The scrolling carousel of images on the left reflects the currently selected category. Selecting a category displays a grid of video icons, which can be played directly. It is surprising how many videos are available in the category detail screens. Fortunately, The Scene offers a search feature to help narrow down video choices.
Tips: Check out The Scene often, as video selections change frequently based on current trends and current events.
If you go out to the movies often, you’re going to love Trailers. This Apple TV channel features trailers for movies currently playing in theaters. You can even read movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and iTunes users.
The user interface is innovative, and goes beyond selecting and playing movie trailers. With the Showtimes option, users can enter their zip code and browse the schedule for nearby theaters. There’s also a calendar view, making it easy to browse future movie releases. The main screen features top trailers. Users can also search or browse trailers by genre.
Tip: Click on the More button in the movie detail view to read detailed reviews and ratings. It also features an interactive list of actors.
Apple TV features an easy way to buy and watch iTunes TV shows using the built-in TV Shows channel. If you have a collection of iTunes TV shows, you can watch them directly on your Apple TV. You can access every TV show purchased under your Apple ID. One can even browse and buy TV shows directly from Apple TV. It doesn’t get any easier!
The user interface makes it easy to browse by top shows, networks, genres and genius recommendations. You can also search for your favorite TV show. Previews are available, so you can make sure the show is worth watching. There’s even free episodes of select shows.
iTunes has hundreds of TV shows, which is great if you don’t have cable or missed an episode of your favorite program. Viewers can buy individual episodes or purchase a whole season, saving on the cost of each episode.
Price: Varies based on TV show (no rentals, only purchase); some episodes free
Tip: You can watch free episodes of many iTunes TV shows. It’s easier to find the free episodes using the iTunes Store on iOS, Mac OS X or Windows. Free episodes are listed on the main TV show screen. Once you find a free episode, you can download it and play it via AirPlay or watch it directly on Apple TV.
Fans of mixed martial arts will get a kick out of the UFC channel on Apple TV. The Ultimate Fighting Championship offers a unique interdisciplinary approach, involving martial arts such as karate, muay thai, boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and sambo. UFC is controversial, and at one point, Senator John McCain spearheaded a movement to ban the sport. After the sport was banned in several states, UFC reformed, creating rules to increase safety.
The UFC channel offers a few clips for free, but the bulk of its content requires a subscription or pay-per-view fees. Users can purchase a 1 month, 6 month, or 12 month “Fight Pass” for $9.99, $54.99 and $99.99, respectively. The Fight Pass does not cover pay-per-view events. Furthermore, some programs are blacked out in many nations, including the United States. You’ll have to do some exploring to figure out content prices and availability.
The main UFC menu resembles most Apple TV channels. The scrolling marquee at the top of the screen displays featured programming. A grid of video thumbnails appears below the scrolling marquee. Viewers can explore programs organized into categories such as Trending on UFC Fight Pass, Recent Events, UFC Fight Pass Exclusive Events, and Free Video.
The Pay-Per-Views menu provides access to upcoming events. The actual program cannot be ordered on Apple TV. Instead, users must purchase the program using their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or web browser. The Pay-Per-View menu also offers replays of past events, however, some of these are blacked out in several nations, including the United States. Past pay-per-view events are available to Fight Pass subscribers.
Price: Fight Pass subscription costs $9.99 for one month, $54.99 for 6 months and $99.99 for 12 months; some programs require pay-per-view fees; some content is available for free
Tip: You can save money on subscription fees by using a discounted iTunes gift card to make the purchase. Read this article to find out how to buy iTunes gift cards at a discount.
As Apple TV matures, more cable networks are joining the channel lineup. Ironically, many of these channels require a TV provider subscription. USA NOW is another toe-in-the-water attempt for a cable channel transitioning into streaming media. It may be useful if you have grown tired of dealing with the convoluted cable user interface. However, if you already have cable or satellite TV, these channels don’t have much else to offer.
USA launched almost 40 years ago as the Madison Square Garden Network. Collegiate and fringe sporting events were broadcast in the evening hours. In 1980, the network rebranded as USA. The network has undergone many changes, offering sports, cartoons, talk shows, game shows and other content over the years. USA is currently owned and operated by NBCUniversal, a Comcast subsidiary. It has followed other networks, providing their own original programming. They produce popular shows such as Burn Notice, Sirens and Suits. USA has also followed others into the digital streaming media fray, offering an Apple TV channel with the ubiquitous “NOW” label.
The USA NOW main screen displays the familiar scrolling marquee, offering featured programs. Below the marquee, users can navigate through a grid of video options organized by Featured Episodes, Latest Episodes and Inside DIG. (DIG is a USA original show.)
If you are looking for a specific show, the Shows menu makes it easy to browse USA programs. There are 14 original shows offered in the Shows menu. Selecting a show displays a few episodes. USA NOW does not offer a complete collection of each show. Instead, users can only select from a few episodes. With the limited selection, you probably won’t need to use the Search feature, which offers the standard Apple TV search functionality.
The Settings menu provides activation instructions. Like many Apple TV channels, USA NOW requires a TV provider subscription for activation. Users must navigate to a web site and complete a registration process using the activation code displayed on Apple TV. The Support option provides answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and contact information. Users can also read the legal agreements.
Price: requires TV provider (cable, satellite, telco) subscription for activation; some clips available without activation.
Tip: If you don’t have a TV provider or wish to watch more episodes of USA shows, try using Netflix or Hulu Plus.
Vevo is another great Apple TV channel with a focus on music videos. The music video streaming service offers over 75,000 HD music videos, covering many genres. Launched in 2009, the service is a partnership between Universal Music Group, Google, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media.
Vevo features a streamlined interface and continuously plays music videos based on your preferences. The top menu enables users to access playlists, search and settings. One can find a favorite song or artist using the search feature. Clicking on search results takes the user to an artist’s page. From here, one can see an image of the artist along with all of their music videos. Users can play all of the artist’s videos directly or shuffle the selections.
The autoplay feature is useful if you’re having a party or just want to relax and let Vevo pick the music. It’s also possible to set up a playlist. Simply go to the Vevo website to create, configure and activate playlists. Once this is done, they’ll show up on Apple TV. It would be nice if this could be done directly on Apple TV. Perhaps this feature will appear in a future update.
Tip: Explicit content is turned off by default. This can be turned on by accessing Vevo’s settings from the top menu bar.
Founded in 2004, Vimeo is a video sharing platform that predates YouTube. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo has a focus on longer, professional and semi-pro videos. Artists such as Britney Spears have used Vimeo to premier music videos. The White House uses Vimeo to post HD broadcasts. Vimeo’s Apple TV channel enables easy access to this vast collection of video content.
Vimeo for Apple TV makes it easy to find and save videos for later viewing. The main menu enables users to browse featured channels and categories. Users can also save videos to be watched later, subscribe to content channels, and view “liked” videos and categories. It’s also possible to search Vimeo’s extensive video collection. Users can sign in to their Vimeo account on Apple TV. This provides another way to manage Vimeo content and keep the user experience consistent across devices.
Tip: Vimeo access is built-in to iOS 7. You can post videos to Vimeo directly from the Camera and Photos apps.
The Weather Channel for Apple TV offers a convenient way to get up to the minute weather forecasts. The channel also features regional video forecasts and weather related programs, available on demand.
The Weather Channel’s main menu makes it easy to check current weather conditions along with hourly and 10 day forecasts. From the top menu, users can search for locations and add them to My Locations. One location can be set as the default (home) location, however, users can access and view weather information for multiple locations. Users can switch between locations from the My Locations screen. The main screen features a summary of your location’s weather conditions, with easy access to different forecasts. One can also select a variety of video content produced by The Weather Channel. Overall, this is a useful Apple TV channel and something I use almost every day.
Tip: Don’t rely on the 10-day forecast. Extended forecasts are often inaccurate.
Willow brings the sport of cricket to Apple TV. Formerly known as Cricket Plus, this U.S. based corporation brings international cricket matches to an American audience. Although Cricket is not a popular sport in the United States, there is some interest in the pastime. Willow also offers their programming on cable, satellite, and over the web.
The channel opens to the Live screen, featuring a schedule of live matches. Users can browse the schedule for upcoming games. From the menu, users can choose Replays, Highlights and Settings. Replays offer on demand video of full-length matches. Short clips are featured on the Highlights menu. Viewers can subscribe to Willow from the Settings menu, which also offers information about the service. The Willow Apple TV channel doesn’t offer any search capabilities. Users can browse the schedule and video listings to find what they’re looking for.
If you’re a fan of Cricket, Willow is one of the major providers of the game in the United States. Subscriptions include access to content from the web, smartphones and tablets, in addition to Apple TV. Unfortunately, Willow does not offer any free content. Even highlights require a subscription.
Tip: Missed a match? Go to the Replays menu to watch it anytime.
The WSJ Live channel features live and on demand news content from the Wall Street Journal. If you need to follow business and financial news, this Apple TV channel is essential. While the Wall Street Journal doesn’t offer 24-hour live broadcasts, users can tune in to the live stream when available. Shows are also available on demand.
From the main screen, the WSJ Live channel offers easy access to live and on demand video. Users can choose to watch live content or explore the schedule. WSJ’s live programming is infrequent and limited to a few shows that are no more than 20 minutes long. Most people will probably not catch the live broadcast. Fortunately, one can search and browse videos by categories. While their might not be a lot of content, busy people who follow the Wall Street Journal will appreciate brief and concise information.
Tip: If you want to watch live news any time, try using the Sky News channel. This is a great way to get live coverage on breaking news.
If you have a case of wrestlemania, Apple TV has the cure — the WWE Network channel. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the predominant professional wrestling organization. The WWE encompasses a few different wrestling organizations such as World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. If you are a professional wrestling aficionado, the WWE has just about every option.
A subscription to WWE enables access to 24/7 streaming of scheduled programming. Subscribers also have access to an extensive on-demand library and all 12 live WWE pay-per-view events. Beyond wrestling matches, the WWE channel offers original series, documentaries and reality shows.
WWE has no free content, although they offer a free one-week subscription. Viewers must subscribe in order to use the channel. Subscriptions can be purchased directly on Apple TV, using an iTunes account. Subscribers can also sign up on the WWE website. A subscription to the WWE channel also provides access on your smart phone, tablet, or web browser.
Price: $60 + tax for 6 months
Tip: Check out the classic professional wrestling footage featured in the on demand library.
Yahoo’s online video service is available as an Apple TV channel. The channel features clips from popular television shows, sporting events, and news stories. Networks such as Comedy Central, Wired and The Onion feature clips on Yahoo Screen. Yahoo Screen also features advertisements disguised as clips.
There’s not a lot to Yahoo Screen. Users can browse clips grouped into categories and play them, in addition to searching.
Update: Season 6 of Community is now available on Yahoo Screen for Apple TV. You can access the episodes from the Community channel on the Channels menu within Yahoo Screen.
Tip: Hulu Plus offers clips from popular TV shows, in addition to full-length TV shows and movies.
Young Hollywood offers programs about entertainment, sports, fashion, music and lifestyle. The content is designed to avoid gossip and doesn’t obtain media from paparazzi. The Young Hollywood channel is exclusive to Apple TV and was developed in partnership with Apple.
The main screen offers a scrolling marquee with featured programming. Below the marquee, videos are arranged in a grid, grouped by categories such as Original Shows, Celebrity Interviews and YH Favorites.
The Shows menu features all of the Young Hollywood programs. Shows such as Backstage Diaries, Food Feed and Quiet on the Set are available for viewing. Selecting a show takes the user to an episode screen.
Interviews make up much of Young Hollywood’s programming. These are neatly arranged by category in the Studio menu. Users can browse interviews by categories such as Actors, Actresses and Comedians. The Studio screen also features acoustic performances from popular recording artists.
The Genres menu features shows organized by subjects such as TV/Film, Music, Sports, Lifestyle and Fashion. Each genre is further defined by appropriate topics. The Search menu offers the standard Apple TV search capabilities.
Tip: Use the Young Hollywood channel to check out behind-the-scenes action of your favorite shows and movies.
YouTube, the popular online video sharing platform, was one of the first channels on Apple TV. This channel has an enormous amount of content. There’s a lot of home-made videos that can be entertaining. Anyone can post videos to YouTube, which makes for a lot of content to sift through. There’s also a lot of great, professional quality videos. I’ve found quite a few classic concerts, particularly from the Montreux Jazz Festival, on YouTube. HBO offers free full-length episodes of select programs on YouTube.
Apple TV’s simple interface does show some limitations when it comes to finding a needle in a haystack. YouTube has so much content, it can prove difficult to find the video you’re looking for. The YouTube channel offers search functionality, however, it can take a while to browse through hundreds of results. Fortunately, users can sign in with their YouTube account, which links YouTube across all of their devices. The YouTube channel also keeps a history of previously watched videos. This comes in handy if there’s a favorite video you watch often.
The YouTube channel’s main screen provides access to featured, most viewed, most recent and top rated videos. Users can sign in with their YouTube account to add comments, rate videos, and flag content as inappropriate. Viewers can also browse other videos posted by the same user.
Tip: Use the YouTube app for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to navigate the enormous collection of videos. You can beam videos to your Apple TV using AirPlay.
Apple TV offers many viewing options and the selection of channels continues to grow. In addition to built-in channels, there are hundreds of AirPlay enabled apps for iOS. You can also use AirPlay Mirroring or AirParrot on your Mac or PC to beam content onto Apple TV. Every few months, Apple updates their TV platform with more channels, features and content. Appledystopia will update this article as new channels are added. If you want to get more out of your Apple TV, here’s 30+ tips to improve your experience.
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