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Apple’s big announcement this week for the new subscription streaming service Apple TV+ was highly anticipated by cord cutters. Featuring original content from producers like Sesame Street, Steven Spielberg, Oprah, and other media icons, the new service focuses on storytelling. Scheduled to launch this fall, the platform also marks the first time Apple steps outside of its ecosystem, making the service available on smart TVs, streaming devices like Roku, and Amazon’s FireTV.
As Apple drops yet another streaming service into a crowded marketplace, consumers now face so many choices it’s hard to know where to start. So, in addition to the original content on the streaming service, the technology leader announced a redesign of the Apple TV app as it joins the fray of companies trying to redefine entertainment after the demise of cable TV. Never a company to think small, Apple plans to redefine the way we view entertainment. The challenge for a big media company launching a streaming platform this late in the game is to shift the experience of watching your favorite shows, movies, sports, and news on a handheld device. Apple has the home-field advantage with a billion devices in hand around the world.
Backed by a large library of titles and the streaming technology of iTunes, the company hopes to curate and deliver content, so it’s at your fingertips. The announcement claimed the new Apple TV experience would deliver every feature consumers want. All content on demand, downloadable, and ad-free accessible through one app, but you only pay for the channels you want. Personalized recommendations curated by experts but applied on the device, so you don’t have to give up your privacy.
The Apple TV app is redesigned to incorporate all of your entertainment sources and provides a consistent UI to make it easier to find what you want. Starting in May, the Apple TV Channels allows consumers to watch cable and satellite providers or skinny bundle streaming providers like Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, or fuboTV, through Apple TV’s interface. If you have HBO, CBS All Access, or other over-the-top providers, Apple TV Channels makes it simple to manage multiple service subscriptions and keeps you from having to bounce from app to app to watch them.
The interface is designed to provide a browsing experience that isn’t dependent on source, but the reality at launch time is that established players aren’t willing to cede control. So, although the new Apple TV app can help you find shows or track your favorite sports team if you select content from Hulu Live TV, the video will launch a separate app outside the interface. Netflix declines to participate, and it’s unclear where content that doesn’t fit neatly, like Mobile Video, will appear.
As the entertainment and technology giants race to deliver the standard that simplifies TV, it becomes clear that streaming video is a disparate experience that might no longer fit neatly into one box. Perhaps the reason that Amazon hasn’t succeeded in unifying the viewing experience as it did with online shopping means that the evolution of entertainment eluded capture by a single provider. Only time will tell.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
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