Apple’s new plans for TV sound a lot like Amazon’s and Roku’s.
The maker of iPhones and laptops is trying to turn its TV app into the home for all your video services. Think about it as the TV bundle of the digital age—although there are still a lot of questions about what that will look like.
Here’s what we know so far: In May, Apple will begin pulling video subscriptions like HBO, Showtime, and Starz—Apple TV channels, as it’s calling them—into its existing TV app on iOS devices, Apple TV, and eventually, Mac computers. It will also pull in content and make recommendations across more than 150 other video apps, like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, along with live-TV bundles like DirecTV Now, and streaming apps for cable services like Spectrum. The TV app will debut original content from Apple beginning in the fall, through a paid tier, TV+. (Apple has not yet said what it will cost.) And the TV app will carry the iTunes store’s on-demand library of movies and TV shows.
Apple isn’t the only tech company on this mission. Amazon Prime Video, through its similarly titled Channels platform, has been selling subscriptions to apps like HBO and CBS All Access for roughly four years now. Amazon bills customers for the subscriptions and streams the content from within the Prime Video app. Streaming-media player Roku brought subscription services like Showtime and Starz into its Roku Channel earlier this year, so people can access the content from one place rather than moving between apps. And Facebook is reportedly considering selling subscriptions as well.
None of these platforms have partnered with Netflix, so they might not fill all of your video needs. But cable company Comcast won Netflix over and now sells subscriptions with its X1 box, so, who knows what the future holds?
Here’s how the offerings from Apple, Amazon, and Roku stack up as of now:
|Feature||Apple TV channels||Prime Video Channels||Premium subscriptions via the Roku Channel|
|Price||Free + cost of third-party apps||Requires Prime ($119/year) or Prime Video ($8.99/month) membership + cost of third-party apps||Free + cost of third-party apps|
|Third-party subscriptions sold in-app||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Third-party subscription content available in-app||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Number of third-party subscriptions available to buy in-app||26 subscriptions (announced so far); content will be available from more than 150 apps||100+ (varies by region)||26|
|Popular third-party subscriptions available to buy||HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access||HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access||Showtime, Starz, Epix|
|Video store||iTunes library of movies and TV shows to rent or buy||Amazon library of movies or TV shows to rent or buy||10,000+ titles available free, with ads|
|Sharing across accounts||Yes (via Family Sharing)||No||No|
|Countries available||100+ (selection will vary by region)||US, UK, Germany, Austria, Japan||US|
|Integrates subscriptions purchased from third-parties||No||No||No|
|Supporting devices||iOS devices, Apple TVs; coming to Mac, Samsung smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony, and VIZIO platforms in the future.||Many internet-connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, iOS, Android, smart TV, Blu-ray player, and game-console platforms.||Roku devices with model 2450 or higher, web browsers via TheRokuChannel.com, or via the the Roku mobile app for iOS and Android|