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Apple TV Sports Apps Are Not for Cord Cutters
One of the biggest questions about TV devices is whether people can cancel cable. After all, Apple TV is far more capable than any digital cable box. If you live in an area with excellent aerial TV reception, you can probably get all of the in-market games using an antenna. If this is the case, Apple TV and a few subscriptions can fill in all of the gaps. Although the subscriptions aren’t cheap, most of the apps transcend the basic features of cable or satellite TV. You can’t really watch two games at a time on cable. Standard television packages don’t offer interactive sports statistics.
Blackouts are the most frustrating aspect of Apple TV sports apps. When a game is broadcast on local television, you simply can’t watch it on Apple TV, no matter how much you paid for a subscription. You can circumvent this with an antenna, if you decide to cancel cable. The problem is that you lose all of the interactive features. This situation won’t change until the networks figure out how to embrace the digital future. They need to make money through advertising, but most Apple TV owners are not averse to ads. We won’t see a breakthrough in this area until businesses figure out how to monetize streaming video. Although there are numerous successful examples of how to do this, advertisers, networks and sports leagues are weary of the digital future.
There are other ways to enjoy sports on Apple TV. ESPN offers a variety of sports apps. Virtually every major network offers an app, and many of them have specific apps just for sports. The problem is that they all require a cable or satellite subscription for activation. Once again, at best, Apple TV can only serve as an adjunct to cable or satellite television. The technology is here. We just have to wait for the businesses to catch up.
New cable-over-the-Internet services have emerged and are launching every day. Sling TV, PlayStation VUE, DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV all offer cable channel bundles without cable. Hulu is slated to launch their service soon. While these services have potential, they also face tremendous restrictions. They’re all missing critical channels and often have blacked out content on available channels. While you can watch sports on most of these services, your options are often limited. At best, they are typically much less expensive than cable. If you can accept their limitations, you can probably cancel cable and do quite well with an Apple TV.
There is hope. For the past few years, the Super Bowl has been available for free on Apple TV. The broadcast is monetized with advertisements. People actually enjoy watching Super Bowl commercials. Given that the most popular sporting event is free on Apple TV, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes routine. After all, when you watch any sport on TV, it is financed by advertisements. Simply inserting commercials into the stream can actually be quite profitable for sports leagues.
The other problem is that the local TV affiliate and TV provider suffer. As with any fading industry, they are desperately clinging on to their aging business model. The new breed of cable-over-the-Internet apps may help bridge the digital transition for traditional broadcast entities. It may also be necessary to subsidize local TV affiliates when viewers choose the superior experience of Apple TV.