Feature Friday: The AppleTV TV App

In late 2016/early 2017, Apple introduced a new app to the AppleTV called TV. We’ve had it on our various AppleTV devices but have not been big users of it until this summer.

With our recent move to ditch traditional cable/satellite and go “over the top”, we have started using the AppleTV a lot more and the TV app has become our primary way into TV content.

When you launch it, the app shows you what is playing now and what you have been watching recently:

There is a sports tab that is great when a lot of sports is on but not so great at 6:45am:

You connect your various apps to the TV app in settings and then the TV app aggregates the content from all of them:

What I don’t understand is is why some apps are supported and others are not. The awesome YouTubeTV app and Netflix, for example, are not supported by the TV app.

I guess this feature is invite only right now or something like that.

If the TV app was connected to every app that we have on our AppleTV, it would be the Google of TV and that’s a pretty powerful place for Apple to be. I have to believe that it is in their interest to go there.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Totally new to me.Will connect and try this evening.AppleTV is basically the only thing plus audio out that we have attached to our flatscreens.Thanks!

  2. Joe Lazarus

    I’m not sure, but I assumed Netflix and others aren’t there because they don’t want to be… that they want to be the starting point themselves.

    1. awaldstein

      Sure you are right.The only starting point–for me at least is content driven almost entirely by the buzz of episodic stories that drive my need for stories.There are obviously exceptions to this rule but the only brand that truly captures my time and imagination is HBO. That is my entrance point into a daily need for a new emotional narrative to end my day.

      1. Joe Lazarus

        There are times when I ‘search’ for specific shows I already watch or heard about from a friend. There are other cases where I ‘browse’ for something new to kill an hour. Not surprisingly, Netflix appears in search results for the Apple TV app. It’s that browse experience that they want to own and aren’t willing to give up to Apple.

        1. awaldstein

          Yup.Amazing that with all of this content, all of our tech platforms i most often find out about stuff from the guy that cuts my hair or having a glass of wine and chatting with the owner at the end of the day.

    2. falicon

      Agree – they don’t want to be another channel on (the new) cable.

    3. BSchildt

      I disagree. Netflix is already an “app” on Xfinity and Roku. Maybe they don’t want to be on Apple TV, but they do not have to be the starting point.

    4. Drew Meyers

      I assume they aren’t there because they don’t want to be, too. They don’t want to give apple full power over the discovery process… because then apple could tax them for showing content there.

    5. Joe

      This is definitely the reason why! They don’t want Apple to have their viewership data. The tvOS API is fully open to enable them to participate.

  3. WA

    Wonder if you can switch between your TVs (We are huge Samsung fans) built in apps or run a Roku along side it. Works on this side.,,

  4. JimHirshfield

    So this new app is called TV. What’s that stand for?

    1. jason wright


    2. Bruce Warila

      Teenager Vortex

  5. jason wright

    twentieth century behaviour.

  6. Woody Lewis

    In my opinion, YouTube TV will beat Apple around the corner. Chromecast seems to provide a more open ecosystem. I was an early AppleTV user, still have it but use it mainly to listen to Internet radio once in a while. I’ll check out the app at some point.

  7. richard bookman

    What are the key differences between the TV app and tvOS itself? I can search for content across sources either way, and, given the limits you describe, the search from tvOS is broader.If it’s little more than aggregating sports, seems like a modest gain…..

  8. kirklove

    Find it to be hit or miss preciously because it excludes certain channels/services. It also tries to drive you to Apple iTunes as much as it can for purchases (which I get) when a lot of the time the content is already available for “free” on HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.I’m still dreaming for the promise of Boxee. Give me a platform agnostic box that serves it all up in one spot for one fee.

  9. aminTorres

    What I don’t understand is why is there is a piece of pottery in front of the screen? 😉 Guessing Netflix and YouTube want to stand alone.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      When I saw it i wondered.. what’s in the jar? 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      because the gotham gal put it there. i agree with you

      1. aminTorres

        “because the gotham gal put it there” hehe, love this.

    3. jason wright

      art before tech.

  10. Ryan

    Fred – couldn’t agree more. I find my usage of the app ticking up as well. I’m in the same boat waiting on them to integrate YouTub TV and Netflix. I think they are onto something here, as having things in one place is great. Not that navigating apps is that difficult, but it is nice to have it centralized.What’s very interesting to me is that my children (12 and 13) seem hooked on YouTube and couldn’t care less about much else – aside from live sports.So far, glad I cut the cord.

  11. sigmaalgebra

    Yup, for some years the old TV Guide was a good business.Generally there is so much digital content available for entertainment, information, etc. some better means of search, discovery, recommendation, curation, notification, subscription are needed.But, IMHO, for TV, mostly nope! TV content is so reliably just JUNK that I gave up on it. The last thing I watched on TV was the first Republican presidential primary debate. Just to watch that, had to upgrade my coaxial TV connection since I hadn’t watched any TV for years before that.

  12. ErikSchwartz

    It is improving. I still HATE the remote. The single most annoying thing about the remote is that you cant tell if you are holding it properly without looking at it.The company that is really screwed is Roku. The hardware is becoming commodity (and essentially all Roku revenue to date is from hardware). Apple and Amazon are growing fast. Roku needs a revenue model that scales with usage not number of units shipped. Their answer to that is to become an ad network. That is not going to cut it.

  13. JJ Donovan

    Could you share the model of this TV? JJD – Liking what he sees…

    1. fredwilson

      i believe it is the Samsung 75″ 2018 Q7

      1. JJ Donovan

        Thanks for sharing the TV Brand and thanks for all you do and share! Amazing work! I am very thankful and inspired by your thoughts.JJD -Off to order!

  14. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:With the original post this news only compliments why Apple market share is where it is currently at. Overpriced hardware with excellent leadership. Apple continues to have thought leaders talking about it.https://www.marketwatch.com…Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  15. Dan Epstein

    I would guess the YouTube TV app gets there before Netflix. YouTube TV is pretty new (and doesn’t do “single-sign on” or Siri search, if I’m not mistaken).Netflix on the other hand has been on ATV forever, and is included in the Siri search, so I’m guessing its absence in the TV app is a political decision by Netflix or Apple.

  16. Tim Luckow

    I believe Netflix isn’t there because they don’t want to share usage data with Apple. Wish they would, seems like a missed opportunity to remain top of mind for AppleTV users.

  17. goldwerger

    We’re still missing TV search for over the top, surprisingly still klunky. Roku does a good job harmonizing search across major apps (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBO, etc.), but most of the secondary apps are missing. Whoever wins the “gateway” game will offer a really valuable feature, though I’m surprised it’s not already done.

  18. Lawrence Brass

    TV within Apple TV is interesting and not an accident.starts at +3:00https://youtu.be/2qLuerYx2I…

  19. i don't know what i'm doing

    netflix and youtube don’t have to modularize themselves to fit into apple tv’s platform because they already have a large user base. they want their customers to be locked in as opposed to choosing between pieces of content from different providers, which would reduce binge-watching and whatnot.