The Apple TV Crash Course (2015)

Part Four: Cutting the Cable Cord

What Is It Like Using Digital Media Devices?

Using any of these devices is not what you are used to with cable. There is no menu guide with a list of shows playing. With all the devices, you essentially get a menu with a series of apps, and within each app is where you find the actual content.

Different doesn’t mean bad. While everything looks different, it really takes no time at all to get used to any of the platforms. Everything is much more graphical than what you see on cable menus.

In the case of Apple TV, apps have already been selected and arrange; you can hide some and rearrange the others, but you can’t just go out and download more apps like you can on the iPhone/iPad. What you see is what you get.

With the other devices, a few apps are pre-installed, but you have to go search for the others. It’s not hard, but if you are the kind of person that wants everything done for them, Apple is a safer choice. With the other devices, it’s a bit of a free for all—there are wonderful apps, and…not so wonderful apps. With Apple TV, the apps are pre-selected and, while you may not want to view all the apps, they are all of higher standards.

Android has the most potential for apps, because they have the largest marketplace of apps and developers often go to them first to try out their app before going to other platforms.


Software and Apps

So now you know what’s out there. This next section will talk about the apps—and what devices they are supported on. There are literally thousands of apps; this section will only talk about the larger ones.

Netflix

Netflix ($7.99) a month is the best content provider out there. No one comes close in terms of content or quality. For the monthly, no commitment, subscription, you get thousands of TV shows and movies. You also get Netflix originals; Netflix has partnered with Marvel to bring original comic book shows later in 2015, and next year they will start airing original movies from people like Adam Sandler and Pee-wee Herman. Current shows like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards frequently are award, and last year they answered the prayers of many fans when they did a new season of the cult TV show Arrested Development. Many of their TV shows are from cable networks—they come about a year after airing.

Price:

$7.99 per month

Supported Devices

All devices

More Information:

www.netflix.com

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon’s Instant Video is Amazon’s answer to Netflix. While they are expanding content and offering some shows from HBO, it is not there yet. If you have Prime subscription, you already have it even if you don’t use it.

Price:

$99 per year

Supported Devices

Fire TV and Roku natively; Apple TV and Chromecast through mirroring/remote play

More Information:

www.amazon.com/instantvideo

Hulu Plus

If you don’t mind waiting for TV shows, Netflix has you covered; if you want it sooner, then there’s Hulu Plus. On top of having TV shows when or close to when they air, Hulu has TV shows not currently on Netflix. Hulu also has original content—though not often on par with the production value of Netflix and Amazon Prime. There is also movie selection, though, again, it isn’t the best selection. Hulu is primarily known for its selection of TV shows.

Price:

$7.99 per month

Supported Devices

All Devices

More Information:

www.hulu.com

Crackle

Do you like free? Then there’s Crackle! Crackle has a growing selection of movies and TV shows (like Seinfeld). Being free, you’d expect content to not be great, but there’s a surprising amount of excellent content here. And it’s getting larger.

Price:

Free (supported with ads)

Supported Devices

All Devices

More Information:

www.crackle.com

HBO Go & HBO Now

You may have heard about HBO Now in the news; it was announced at the same Apple Conference as the Apple Watch. Why is it a major announcement? HBO Go would always let you stream all your HBO shows and movies, as long as you subscribed through a cable provider and your cable provider allowed it. With HBO Now you can subscribe without cable. While it will only be on Apple TV at launch, you can expect it on other platforms in the future.

Price:

HBO Go is free if you subscribe to HBO with your cable subscription; HBO Now is $14.99 per month (first month free).

Supported Devices

HBO Go is supported on all media devices; HBO Now is supported on Apple TV at launch.

More Information:

www.hbo.com 

Sling TV

Similar to Hulu, Sling TV offers TV shows for a subscription price. Shows can be watched live, and there are several networks not available anywhere else. Some of networks include: AMC, HGTV, TNT, TBS, Food Network, Cartoon Network, CNN, ad ESPN. There are currently about 20 in the package.

Price:

$20 per month (7 day free trial subscription)

Supported Devices

Roku and Fire TV

More Information:

www.sling.com

YouTube

The video service that, in some ways, started it all; YouTube may be done for short videos—and cats…lots and lots of cats—but it has been branching out into longer paid videos as well.

Price:

Free

Supported Devices

All devices but Fire TV; Fire TV does have a YouTube app, but it’s not official.

More Information:

www.youtube.com

Watch ESPN

This combines all the ESPN networks into one place for live TV and highlights / replays. Perfect for the sports junky! Apple TV has the largest selection of sports channels (including: NBA Game Time, MLB TV, NFL Now, NHL Game Center, WWE Network, UFC TV)

Price:

Free with cable subscription where supported; does not currently offer a stand-alone service for users without cable subscriptions.

Supported Devices

All devices

More Information:

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/apps#

Showtime Anytime, Encore Play, Starz Play

Showtime Anytime, Encore Play and Starz Play are similar to HBO Go; unfortunately, there is no monthly package for non-cable users. It features all the content that you see on your TV, but with the convenience of watching it anytime—even if you didn’t record it. All your favorite cable original shows are there as well.

Price:

Free with cable subscription where supported; does not currently offer a stand-alone service for users without cable subscriptions.

Supported Devices

All devices for Showtime, Chromecast for Encore and Starz

More Information:

www.showtimeanytime.com

A&E, History, PBS, PBS Kids, Disney, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick, Comedy Central, Lifetime, FYI, Watch ABC, Fox Now, Smithsonian

Most major networks have apps for viewing TV on the devices, but most also currently require a subscription.

Price:

Free with cable subscription where supported; does not currently offer a stand-alone service for users without cable subscriptions.

Supported Devices

Disney, Comedy Central, Lifetime, and FYI are currently supported only on Apple TV and Chromecast. All other channels are supported everywhere.

Vudu & Flixster

Have you bought a Blu-ray or DVD disc that has a coupon for a digital download, and wondered why you would want that? This is why! Both Vudu and Flixster let you add digital copies to your device; no disk space is required; no disk is required. Just add the code and you are done.

Flixster partners with Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews

Cost:

It’s free to add a movie if you have the ultraviolet code; you can also purchase movies from each service.

Supported Devices

Vudu (supported on Roku and Chromecast); Flixster (supported on all devices but Apple TV); Vudu can be mirrored on Apple TV

More information:

www.vudu.comwww.flixster.com

Qello Concerts

If you like going to concerts, then this is a great app; there are hundreds of them, from classic rock like Queen and The Doors to modern pop like Sara Bareilles and Lady Gaga.

Cost:

Subscribing monthly is $4.99; yearly is $44.99; 7 day free trial available.

Supported Devices

All devices but Roku

More information: www.qello.com

Sony Vue

In March, Sony Entertainment did its best to turn the heads of cord cutters with the announcement of Sony Vue—a streaming content provider that shows TV shows in both real-time and on demand. While many of the big networks are there, notably absent are ABC and Disney. Vue has by far the largest selection of content—up to 80 channels at launch for certain regions. The plan comes with a few catches, however: one, the price (more on that below), and two, the regions it’s available in—currently the only regions you can access Vue is: New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Price:

For $50 a month, you get 53 channels (CBS, Fox, NBC, Bravo, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network, MTV, Nick, and TNT are some of the bigger ones); for $60 you can also get local sports networks; and for $70 you get smaller stations like FXM, Logo and Sprout.

Supported Devices

PS4 and PS3 at launch; iPad at launch is said to be in works.

More Information:

www.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com