CW First Major Network to Offer Free Streaming to Apple TV

Let's hope this is just the beginning. The CW television network announced it will be coming to Apple TV — the first major network to stream its content to the device for free. Until now, the major networks have been reluctant, and Apple's set-top box has had pretty limited fare, unless you were inclined to pay for every episode via the iTunes Store.

The CW shows will have the same commercials as in the broadcast version and will be available one day later. CW offers such popular series as The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, 90210, Heart of Dixie, America's Next Top Model, and Beauty & the Beast. Of course, you also can access these programs freely via the iPhone and iPad apps. CW offers the five most recent episodes of every primetime show.

I think Apple TV is going to become more of a focus for Apple, and there's a chance Apple will open it up to developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The device would be so much more marketable if it had apps, and I don't think there's much reason to not take this step. Many of the apps already exist for the iPhone and iPad. It wouldn't take that much work to port them to the Apple TV.

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And certainly there's no way Apple would introduce its own rumored HDTV without giving it the ability to run apps. Apple needs to make its move now before Android comes to dominate the space. I recently spent $45 on a Mini PC, a small device not much larger than a thumb drive that connects to the USB port in my HDTV and gives me access to all the Android apps on my TV. Apps are the future of TV, and hopefully the new CW app on Apple TV is an indication that Apple is moving in this direction.

In the meantime, the main way that I use my TV is via AirPlay using my Apple TV and my iPad mini. I have a set of about a dozen favorite apps on my mini that offer free video streaming. I use AirPlay and the Apple TV device to stream the video from my iPad mini to my TV. Apps that I use include Smithsonian Channel for iPad, TED, NBC Nightly News, PBS for iPad, Movie Vault for iPad, Crackle, TheCW Network, Watch ABC, CBS, and SnagFilms. All are free, and all stream free content.

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.