The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
Since it was originally released in 2007, the Apple TV has had roughly 50 “channels” — or apps, if you prefer that word — ranging from single-station broadcast networks to aggregations of nearly 20 Korean TV networks within a single channel. A handful of the channels are only available in individual European countries, and many of them are offered only in the United States, with only a small fraction locked entirely behind subscription paywalls.
Here’s a complete list of Apple TV channels past and present; more will surely be added to the device in the near future.
A&E: Added in April 2014, this channel provides free access to select recent episodes of TV shows from the U.S. television network A&E, as well as clips from current and past seasons. Full episodes of many shows are locked behind a cable TV subscription wall.
ABC: Added in December 2013, this channel provides free, on-demand access to the U.S. television network ABC, including full episodes and clips for most of the channel’s national programming.
ABC News: Added in June 2014, the second ABC channel is devoted entirely to on-demand and live streaming news content.
ACC Sports: Added in March 2014, this video-heavy channel focuses on Atlantic Coast Conference sports, namely college basketball, football, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and swimming.
AOL On: Aggregating content from a wide variety of third-party providers, AOL On was added in June 2014. It bills itself as “the web’s largest curated library of premium video, and the home of AOL Originals,” programming funded by AOL. On-demand videos and clips are available; it’s yet another option for news, as well.
Apple Events: As one of several Apple-controlled channels that appear and disappear from the Apple TV, this channel debuted in October 2012 and provides temporary live and on-demand access to recent Apple media event videos. Apple typically changes the icon to match its most recent event invitation graphic.
The Beatles: Briefly appearing in February 2014, The Beatles was a small channel designed to promote the release of U.S. versions of The Beatles’ albums, offering streaming of the band’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show 50 years earlier.
Beats Music: Introduced in September 2014 alongside iOS 8.0, this channel provides access to the Beats Music subscription service Apple acquired alongside Beats Electronics in mid-2014. Beats Music streams audio to the Apple TV based on a collection of user-specified preferences and moods. It is a complement to iTunes Radio, though quite possible that the channels may be combined in the future.
Bloomberg: Added in December 2013, this 24-hour business news channel features live and on-demand video from Bloomberg News.
CanalPlay (France Only): Added to the Apple TV in July 2013, CanalPlay Infinity is Vivendi’s subscription-based video on demand service for the Canal+ network, including movies, TV shows, and kids programs in French.
CNBC: Added in July 2014, this channel provides free on-demand access to CNBC’s cable news content and shows, including a live stream of video, and clips from various programs.
Computers: Debuting on the original Apple TV in March 2007 as “Sources,” then reappearing as Computers in September 2010, this channel provides access to whatever media is stored on iTunes Libraries sharing the Apple TV’s network. Music, videos, and podcasts can be accessed from Computers.
Crackle: Added in December 2013, this Sony-owned channel includes a collection of free-to-view older Sony-produced movies and TV shows, as well as short-form original content such as Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.
Crunchyroll: Added in June 2013, this subscription-required channel offers access to translated Japanese anime cartoons and TV shows, with anime-only and all-access membership at different monthly price points. Samples of anime and drama programs are offered to non-subscribers.
Disney Channel: Requiring a paid cable TV subscription, this September 2013 addition streams on-demand and live Disney Channel content to the Apple TV. If you don’t subscribe to the channel with one of a handful of U.S. TV providers, you cannot do anything on this channel.
Disney Junior: Requiring a paid cable TV subscription, this September 2013 addition streams on-demand and live Disney Junior content to the Apple TV. If you don’t subscribe to the channel with one of a handful of U.S. TV providers, you cannot do anything on this channel.
Disney XD: Requiring a paid cable TV subscription, this September 2013 addition streams on-demand and live Disney XD content to the Apple TV. If you don’t subscribe to the channel with one of a handful of U.S. TV providers, you cannot do anything on this channel.
ESPN: Added in June 2013 and updated with additional internal channels starting in August 2013, ESPN offers access to news and video highlights from sporting events, plus live TV access to the ESPN collection of channels if you have a cable TV account with a major U.S. cable provider.
Flickr: Added in February 2008, Flickr is a browsing tool for the popular Yahoo-owned photo sharing service. Multiple Flickr user accounts can be browsed one-at-a-time as Contacts, with a search feature to hunt for other content.
FOX Now: Added in July 2014, this channel provides free on-demand access to clips and select episodes from the Fox TV network, and with a cable subscription adds full access to a number of Fox shows.
FX Now: Added in September 2014, this channel provides free on-demand access to clips and select episodes from the FX, FXX, and FXM cable networks, including full access to a number of their shows with a cable subscription. A Simpsons World section containing the entire Simpsons TV show catalog was said to be part of the FX Now channel, but has not yet been introduced.
HBO Go: Although most of its content is accessible only by HBO cable TV subscribers, this channel was added in June 2013, offering free previews and subscription on-demand streaming of HBO programs.
History: Added in April 2014, this channel provides free access to select recent episodes of TV shows from the U.S. television networks History and H2, as well as clips from current and past seasons. Full episodes of many shows are locked behind a cable TV subscription wall.
Hulu Plus: Added in July 2012, this subscription-required video streaming channel provides day-after access to a large collection of U.S. TV shows from multiple networks, as well as a collection of movies.
iCloud Photos: Introduced in March 2007 as Photos, renamed Photo Stream in October 2011, then renamed as iCloud Photos in September 2013, this channel exists to display streamed photographs from the Internet. Originally, photos were streamed from computers running iTunes, but once Apple moved photo storage into the cloud, iCloud Photos stopped depending on iTunes, focusing instead on the last 1000 images placed on Apple’s free photo service
iMovie Theater: Added in October 2013, this unique channel automatically displays videos created with iMovie and shared with its Theater feature. iMovie on iOS and OS X can both share home videos directly to iCloud, and thus this channel.
iTunes Festival: Intermittently appearing starting in August 2013, this Apple-designed channel exists solely to stream live and on-demand videos from the iTunes Festival, an annual concert series in the United Kingdom that recently added a U.S. mini-event at South by Southwest (SXSW). It disappears from the Apple TV shortly after each Festival has ended.
iTunes Radio: Added to the Apple TV in September 2013, iTunes Radio is Apple’s competitor to Pandora, Slacker Radio, and similar free music streaming services. Artist, song, or genre-specific “stations” can be created on the Apple TV, an iOS device or computer running iTunes, syncing between devices using your iTunes account. Related songs will stream for free to your Apple TV, just like listening to a radio station.
KORTV: Added in December 2013, this Korean television hub combines live TV and video on demand services. Ten free live TV channels, eight premium live TV channels, pay-per-view shows, movies, and electronic game competitions are all accessible from KORTV.
Lifetime: Added in April 2014, this channel provides free access to select recent episodes of TV shows from the U.S. television network Lifetime, as well as clips from current and past seasons. Full episodes of many shows are locked behind a cable TV subscription wall.
MLB.TV: Combining live scores, audio, and video streaming, Major League Baseball’s MLB.TV channel debuted in March 2011, with a hefty annual subscription for seeing or hearing live games in progress. Video recaps and scores are offered for free within the channel.
MLS: Added in September 2013, Major League Soccer’s subscription-based MLS provides live and on-demand access to live out-of-market matches, as well as archived matches within North America. Clubs, scores, standings, and highlights can be viewed for free within the channel.
MobileMe: Added in July 2008 and subsequently removed, MobileMe resembled the Flickr photo browsing channel, but worked with Apple’s MobileMe photo gallery service. It was effectively replaced by Photo Stream and iCloud Photos.
Movies: Debuted with the original Apple TV in March 2007, Movies became the focus of major upgrades throughout the first- and second-generation devices’ lifespans. It originally only played movies synchronized from iTunes, later gaining the ability to sync and stream iTunes Store rented or purchased movies, and play movie trailers. The latter feature was later split off into a separate channel, Trailers.
Music: Originally a core Apple TV feature when the original device debuted in March 2007, the Music channel disappeared with the September 2010 release of the hard disk-less second-generation Apple TV, and later returned to let users stream and purchase iTunes Store/iTunes Match content.
NBA: Added in March 2011, NBA (billed as NBA Game Time) offers free scores, standings, and game highlights for the National Basketball Association, as well as subscription-based access to streamed games, and iTunes Store season archives.
Netflix: Arguably the most important third-party channel ever added to the Apple TV, Netflix debuted in September 2010, providing users subscription-based access to a collection of on-demand TV shows and movies. While the channel launched with so-so movie content, its library of TV shows was substantial, and become considerably better soon thereafter. Until the addition of Netflix, all video content streamed to the Apple TV needed to be purchased a la carte or otherwise user-supplied; this service made nightly video viewing easy and affordable.
NFL Now: Added in August 2014, this channel includes customized NFL highlights and other video clips with a free account, plus free news updates and clips from NFL shows such as Hard Knocks without an account, and in-game highlights with an NFL Now Plus $2 a month subscription.
NHL: Added in October 2011, the National Hockey League’s NHL Gamecenter channel looks much like the NBA channel, offering free scores and standings, plus subscription-based access to home and away feeds for live and archived games.
NOW TV / Sky Sports (UK-only): Added to United Kington Apple TVs in December 2013, NOW TV provides subscription-based “day pass” and “week pass” access to Sky Sports: soccer/football, Formula 1 racing, rugby, cricket, golf, and tennis. In September 2014, Sky added Movies and Entertainment channels to sports, each with a monthly rather than daily subscription.
PBS: Added in November 2013, the Public Broadcasting Service’s PBS channel offers on-demand access to much of the network’s television content, including local programming, national programming, and shows rebroadcast from the BBC.
PBS Kids: Added in June 2014, PBS Kids streams childrens’ programming from the PBS network. While it requires activation, including a sign in with Facebook, Google+, or a PBS account, no cable subscription is necessary to watch the shows, which overlap kids’ content found on Netflix and Hulu—for free.
Photos: See iCloud Photos.
Photo Stream: See iCloud Photos.
Podcasts: Debuted with the original Apple TV in March 2007, Podcasts provides direct access to the iTunes Store’s Podcast Catalog, including genre- and station-based sorting of podcasts, as well as a competent search feature. Video and audio podcasts can both be streamed here.
Qello: Locked behind a subscription wall, Qello debuted in June 2013, offering the “world’s largest library of concerts and music documentaries” for a monthly fee.
Radio: Added to the Apple TV in October 2009, Radio duplicates the Internet Radio functionality long found in iTunes, providing genre-based access to radio stations streamed for free over the Internet. When opened, the app shows the title “Broadcast Radio,” differentiating itself somewhat from Apple’s own iTunes Radio.
Red Bull TV: Added in January 2014, this extreme sports channel provides live and on-demand access to Red Bull’s Air Race events, as well as surfing, snowboarding, biking, and other events. Shows, music, and sporting events are streamed for free though this channel.
Settings: Debuted with the Apple TV in March 2007, this “channel” is actually just an ever-growing collection of settings for the device, providing access to screen savers, AirPlay toggles, and the ability to turn off many of the channels that were automatically added to the Apple TV.
Sky News: Added in June 2013, this was the Apple TV’s second dedicated news channel, following WSJ Live and preceding Bloomberg. Based in the U.K., Sky News offers access to live news broadcasts, as well as numerous on-demand stories of international interest.
Smithsonian: Added in August 2013, the Smithsonian Channel includes full-length episodes and clips for educational and historical programs shown on the cable network of the same name. No subscription is required to see the content.
Trailers: Originally launched in February 2008 as a feature of the Movies channel, subsequently renamed In Theaters (September 2010), and later renamed Trailers (March 2012) as a standalone channgel, this provides access to the iTunes Movie Trailers collection that has long been hosted on Apple.com. Trailers also includes a release calendar sort of the trailers, as well as a zipcode-based Showtimes feature displaying times and dates for current theatrical releases.
TV Shows: Another core Apple TV channel, TV Shows debuted with the original device in March 2007, serving as one of its most important channels as Apple migrated to a device without a hard drive. Currently, TV Shows primarily offers access to a la carte and season-purchased TV shows, which are priced comparably to episodes on DVD or Blu-Ray Discs, but delivered the day after they’ve aired on television. Because of their lower rental/all-you-can-eat pricing, services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus have become more popular.
TV4 Play (Sweden-only): Available only in Sweden, the TV4 Play channel was added in February 2014, offering on-demand programs and live broadcasting. A free tier of TV show content is available, as is a premium tier with more TV shows and movies.
VEVO: Added in August 2013, this music video channel is the modern equivalent of MTV in the 1980’s, offering on-demand access to songs by individual artists, as well as live video feeds, all without a subscription. The channel also partnered with Apple to stream the iTunes Festival at SXSW in 2014, providing an alternate way to view live performances versus Apple’s iTunes Festival channel.
Vimeo: Added in August 2011 as a rival to the long-established YouTube, Vimeo provides high-quality streams of videos hosted on its web site, with channel, category, and search features. No subscription is required.
Watchever (Germany only): Added in January 2013 to German Apple TVs, this movie and TV series offers German- or English-language versions of programs in a manner otherwise akin to Hulu Plus. A monthly subscription is required to access the content.
The Weather Channel: Added in August 2013, The Weather Channel is the rare Apple TV channel with non-video utility on its main page. Once you’ve entered your zip code, it provides current, hourly, and 10-day weather forecasts, including a video forecast for the day, plus television shows and weather/nature/space-related news stories in video format.
Willow: Added in June 2014, Willow is a cricket channel, broadcasting HD cricket matches from around the world to American and Canadian viewers. It requires a $15/month subscription.
WSJ Live: Added in October 2011 as part of a broader deal between Apple and News Corp., WSJ Live became the first news channel on the Apple TV, offering live and on-demand business news in streaming video format.
WWE Network: Added in February 2014, this channel provides 24-hour access to World Wrestling Entertainment video programming, including 12 live pay-per-view events, reality shows, live programs, and on-demand content. A paid subscription is required.
Yahoo Screen: Added in November 2013, this free video streaming channel includes a somewhat random-feeling but high-quality collection of TV shows and clips, including Saturday Night Live, Comedy Central programs, ABC News, The Onion, and others.
YouTube: Added in June 2007 as the first third-party channel for the Apple TV, YouTube initially started life on the platform as a collection of low-resolution, questionably tasteful user-submitted videos, but evolved over time to include higher-resolution and more professionally produced content. While YouTube’s videos are decidedly mixed in quality, the Apple TV’s ability to search and display them — or at least, some of them — is sometimes useful.
We plan to add additional channels to this guide as Apple debuts them on the Apple TV.
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