By Jim Karpen on Mon, 12/16/2013
Something's going on with Apple TV. After several quiescent years, Apple has been adding a lot of channels in 2013 — 18 so far. And there's evidence they may be preparing a software developers kit to open up development for the platform. On Wednesday Apple quietly added four more channels: Crackle, which offers free movies; Bloomberg TV, which offers a range of news reporting; Watch ABC, which requires that you already have cable TV service; and KORTV, a Korean channel offering paid movies and shows along with some free content (all in Korean). All of this activity suggests Apple is increasing its focus on Apple TV; and there are rumors that the company will be coming out with a new iteration of their Apple TV device in the first half of next year, or eventually even their own HDTV.
The small selection of movies on Crackle, which have occasional breaks for ads, include some familiar titles: The Cable Guy, The Survivors, Last Action Hero, Desperado, Hollow Man, Brian's Song, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Red Rock West, Godzilla, and Spring Break. There's also a selection of TV shows and other serials, including Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Bloomberg has a range of news programming available, including financial, technology, politics, and style, as well as shows such as Charlie Rose and StreetSmart. You can even watch their live program.
I'm very encouraged by all of this and find that there's so much content on Apple TV now that I really don't have a need for cable. The only exception is sports. Apple TV does offer some sports, but you have to pay. My favorites are Smithsonian, PBS, Podcasts (which has a ton of video content), Yahoo Screen, and now Crackle and Bloomberg.
Regarding the evidence that Apple may be moving toward opening up Apple TV as a platform, a great article on 9To5Mac discusses their interview with two of the people who developed the new Bloomberg TV channel. They said Apple has created tools that make it very simple to develop apps (or channels) for Apple TV. Two developers and their supervisor created the Bloomberg app in just five weeks, and most of that time was spent optimizing the video performance. So it sounds as if Apple has put some real attention on creating these tools. Likely one reason we're seeing more channels is because of these tools, in addition to Apple increasing their focus on Apple TV.
This momentum suggests that TV is going to be one of their major new directions in 2014.