Free Content for Apple TV

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There are no advertisements with iTunes content. Apple makes their money from pay-per-view content. They’re hoping a free episode will encourage you to purchase the series. iTunes has always been generous with free samples.

I recommend downloading the free episodes onto your iPad or iPhone. Once downloaded, play them via AirPlay onto your Apple TV. If you try to play video content directly from iTunes on your Apple TV, it will take a long time before it actually plays. You will not be able to use your Apple TV while the download is taking place. Apple forces people to experience high quality video without pauses. This means you will have to wait until the show has downloaded enough data to avoid pauses. Furthermore, the show is not saved on your Apple TV. If you want to watch it again, you will have to download it again. Apple TV only has an 8GB SSD, which is not user-manageable. I only watch iTunes movie trailers directly on my Apple TV. I download everything else onto my iPad.

Apple TV: native support
Quality: below SD to HD

YouTube is a bastion of free content. Most of the video is amateur. This is not necessarily a bad thing. With increases in affordable HD cameras and easy video editing software, the amateur auteur can create visceral content. YouTube is not just about amateur content. Many professional musical artists host video on YouTube. For my tastes, I have been using YouTube to watch a lot of the Montreux Jazz Festival shows from the past. I can’t get enough of the Weather Report concert from 1976. There are also several performances from Miles Davis. These are decent quality with great audio.

YouTube news videos often feature content from professional sources. Usually, people access these when reading a news story on the web. You can search YouTube directly from your Apple TV and find video content about breaking news stories.

You can even watch premium content on YouTube. Many networks host full episodes of shows and even full movies on YouTube. These are all free. HBO, for example, runs a YouTube channel that offers full episodes. Every time I explore YouTube, I am impressed by what it has to offer.

Video and audio quality vary greatly on YouTube. There are plenty of videos recorded on smart phones with shaky video and poor audio. There are also amazing, full length videos produced by professionals. YouTube videos can often take a long time to load. One of my favorite music videos is Yes performing Close to the Edge in 1975. I don’t watch it often, because it usually takes 20 minutes to load on my Apple TV. Unlike Netflix and Hulu Plus, YouTube doesn’t seem to use advanced codecs to provide HD quality at normal broadband speeds. This can be frustrating. The Apple TV YouTube app does not allow the user to change video quality settings. (continue…)

YouTube app for iPad

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