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There’s also a lot of legal collusion and contracts between sports organizations, cable providers, TV networks and other entities. It’s simply too much inertia to break from the status quo. They don’t even have to replace the old way of watching sports on TV or at the stadium.
The NFL app for Apple TV is a decent app, but at best, is only an adjunct to televised games. Unlike other sports app offerings, the NFL app doesn’t have any of the slick interactive features. You can watch free clips and previously broadcast games (if you purchase a Game Pass subscription for $49.99). If you have the right cable provider, you can possibly watch select games live, however, they don’t support Comcast, the largest cable company. The app has potential, but it’s ruined by exclusive deals and limitations. For those looking to research teams and watch commentary shows, the app may prove useful.
DIRECTV has created their own football app — NFL Sunday Ticket. This app allows DIRECTV customers to watch out-of-market regular season NFL games on Sunday. If they had any more rules, they could create their own religion. Unfortunately, since football season is over, I was unable to even browse this app to write about features. The app loaded, showed a Chevy commercial and then a displayed a “see you next season” message.
Overall, if you’re looking for a sport that has embraced technology and supports the full potential of TV devices, look elsewhere. Football is lagging behind the curve and is mired in a web of contracts and deals. Unlike so many other industries, they haven’t yet figured out how to profit in the digital age. It seems as though protecting their current business partners, TV networks and cable/dish providers, is stalling their digital strategy. If you’re a football fan, forget about Apple TV or any TV device. Just stick with cable, satellite or rabbit ears.
NBA App for Apple TV
Basketball, being less popular than football, also has less of the wheeling and dealing that limits adoption of new technology. The NBA app for Apple TV actually allows users to watch games, if they pay for a NBA League Pass subscription. At $99.99 customers can purchase a League Pass for one season. This subscription allows viewing of regular season live and on-demand games for all 30 teams. If you just want to follow one team, the Team Pass only costs $59.99. Both subscriptions are subject to blackout restrictions.
The NBA app is refreshingly simple. It’s not loaded with myriad clips of talking heads. Instead, the app is oriented toward watching live games and following statistics. The app’s Games screen offers an innovative calendar-based user interface for browsing game schedules. The Standings screen allows users to browse stats. For those who can’t always see the game live, the settings screen allows users to hide scores in order to avoid spoilers.
While the NBA app is a reasonable attempt to embrace technology, it has its flaws. Not being able to watch blacked out games means that you will still need cable, a dish or an antenna. You can’t circumvent this by using VPN. It’s not a technical limitation, but another concession to the networks. The problem is that this just makes your Apple TV an adjunct to standard television offerings. If you love basketball, you may be able to cut the cord, so long as your antenna still works. (continue…)