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The Viki Apple TV app looks a lot like a standard tvOS app. It has the familiar top menu and grayish background color. They implement an innovative filter feature which I haven’t seen on any other Apple TV app. While on a category screen, such as Movies, users can filter selections based on genres, countries and status (popular, highest rated and recently added). This makes it much easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. People new to foreign programming may just want to stick with the default Featured screen. Although the app looks a bit drab, the filters are impressive and useful.
Last, but certainly not least, YouTube is the free content powerhouse of the Internet. The video service, created by three PayPal employees in 2005, was eventually acquired by Google in 2006. Today, YouTube is the second highest ranked website on the planet, accounting for almost 20% of Internet traffic.
There’s a misconception that YouTube only streams amateur video. We’ve probably all watched cute pet videos on YouTube, but the platform offers much more. The other night, I really wanted to watch The Kids in the Hall. Netflix doesn’t offer it anymore. I searched YouTube and hit the jackpot. Not only did they have every episode on The Nerdist channel, but the playlists featured interviews with the cast. I enjoyed the sketches and also gained insight into this show that I have enjoyed for almost 30 years. I watch the PBS NewsHour on YouTube every day. Networks like HBO offer free episodes on YouTube. There’s also great shows and movies uploaded by YouTube users, some of which have been picked up by major networks, receiving rave reviews.
The YouTube app for Apple TV only offers a subset of functionality. Users can search for and play videos, subscribe to channels and alter settings. Unfortunately, commenting and rating videos is not possible at this time. I find searching for videos to be a bit difficult using the Siri Remote or Siri dictation. This is mainly because YouTube just has so much content. The Home screen is intelligent and figures out what you probably want to watch. The Subscriptions screen provides quick access to subscribed channels. Users can look at their history and even access Google Play purchases from the My YouTube screen. If you need to access YouTube’s full functionality, you can use your iPhone or iPad and beam video to your Apple TV using AirPlay.
Much More Free Content on Apple TV
This article is, by no means, an exhaustive exposé on free Apple TV content. The apps profiled here are the most popular free tvOS content apps available in the App Store. The Apple TV App Store is still relatively new. New apps are added every day. Without a doubt, there will be more apps providing free movies and TV shows to Apple TV users.
Apple TV owners aren’t limited to the App Store. Using AirPlay technology, it’s possible to beam just about anything to Apple TV. If you can see it on your screen, you can beam it to Apple TV. Major networks tend to be more generous with free content on their websites and iOS apps. While they may require a TV provider to activate their tvOS app, they sometimes provide free content over the web. If you look beyond the App Store, there’s a wealth of free content available for Apple TV.