7 signs Apple TV is changing television

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The future of television is apps – or something like them, and software developers are exploring possibilities with Apple TV.

International anywhere

If you live in India why shouldn’t you be able to watch US television? If you live in the US, why can't you watch TV from Delhi? There isn’t really a good reason, and that’s why you should expect more services like YuppTV.

South Asia’s largest OTT TV provider, YuppTV’s recently released Apple TV app offers live and catch-up television, thousands of on-demand Bollywood movies and local sports. That’s a significant contrast to the way things worked until relatively recently, when such access required expensive satellite connections. This inevitable future is already being explored by UK TV content producers working with Acorn TV, which recently offered up its own Apple TV app.

Hit the niche

Streaming solutions don’t just enable international audiences; they also provide a window for niche audiences. There’s a growing field of examples of this, including KlowdTV, which last month launched its live-streaming TV app for Apple TV, providing access to live broadcasts from some big names, including Colombian, Mexican and more, sidestepping conventional cable.

Getting personal

I recently wrote about a range of interesting Apple TV apps that demonstrate how personalization is transforming our expectations. (Haystack TV was among the first personalized news apps on Apple and Android TV, and continues to win praise.) Channel apps like these show how personalization, niche and geographical independence will force incumbents in the cable, satellite and broadcasting space to change their ways to meet empowered audiences. Audiences already want to create their own channel packages.

Reinventing and sharing

Such cut and paste television experiences present new opportunities for other forms of broadcasting. (This is as old as the Internet, of course). YouTube shows part of this, but BitTorrent’s exciting OTT News app, (currently providing US election coverage) takes this further. “BitTorrent Live allows for large audiences to view live video with low latency and without the need for an expensive CDN (Content Delivery Network) or pre-provisioning. The technology has been undergoing real world tests with a number of broadcast partners and OTT News is the latest,” BitTorrent explains. I imagine this tech will help enable the emergence of new broadcasters and a breakdown in the control of the information flow. Hopefully.

Akamai

There are claims Apple intends launching its own streaming television service including its own content. With that in mind you’d expect its streaming partner, Akamai, to be jubilant. It isn’t, instead it warns that its business is going to shrink in the coming months. This suggests Apple intends developing its own CDN to take the strain, and could mean the speculation is truth unfurling.

By command

Don’t underestimate the importance of Siri and the convenience of Apple’s remote control – simplicity is sexy and that’s why Fox Now, FXNow and NatGeoTV have joined Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtiem and Apple in supporting universal search.

This is having a real impact on viewing patterns. Reader Robert Ferguson wrote on the Appleholic group: “In this day and age there is no reason providers can't offer simplified packages for viewers which allow people to pay for the programming they really want to watch. Apps are definitely the way of future viewing.”

Robert's not alone -- 35 percent of Millennials chose to watch this weekend’s Superbowl on streaming services.

Fast track

We’re seeing rapid evolution. AppLovin plans to host a two-day hackathon in an attempt to kick-start new developments and unseen opportunities for Apple TV app development. There’s also potential for alliances between hardware and software makers, such as the Channels app that works with SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun network TV tuners.

Beware

There is a dark side. Any who recall the early Internet remembers that anyone could do anything and go anywhere. These days our information superhighway appears increasingly carved up between big brands (hence the net neutrality debate) using our cultural content to hook us to to their services, building empires in our homes.

It’s working – consumers are already more inclined to stream entertainment than watch TV. However, this disrupted TV future may end up being unavailable to some.

But it is highly addictive.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

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