Apple introduced a new app at a press event in Cupertino, Calif. Thursday that aims to make it easier for Apple TV owners to find the shows they want to watch. The app, aptly called “TV,” will be available to U.S. consumers on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad by the end of this year.
The new app aggregates TV shows and movies from multiple content providers, allowing users to quickly get back to their favorite shows without the need to find and open separate apps manually. Some of the content partners shown on stage Thursday included Hulu, Showtime, Starz and HBO. Notably absent was Netflix: That’s because the video streaming service isn’t part of Apple’s new TV app, as Variety was able to confirm Thursday.
The TV app shows new episodes as they air, as well as the next episodes of recently watched shows. It also features a discovery section, allowing users to find new content. Another section of the app gives easy access to all content bought or rented via Apple’s iTunes store. Consumers will also be able to directly subscribe to third-party video services like Hulu.
Upon selecting an episode, the TV app redirects users to the app of the preferred content provider, and automatically launches into playback. When an episode is finished, users can quickly switch back to the TV app.
The idea to aggregate content from multiple video apps isn’t entirely new: Amazon’s Fire TV has offered similar functionality on its home screen for some time, and Amazon is looking to further emphasize third-party content with an interface update that is scheduled to be released before the end of the year. Google’s Android TV platform also offers aggregation of content from multiple apps directly on its home screen.
But as consumer electronics companies move from being simple app platforms to being content aggregators, they often navigate a treacherous terrain. Apple, Google and Amazon all operate their own content services. They also have business relationships with content publishers, taking cuts from services like Netflix and Hulu when consumers subscribe from their platforms.
What’s more, companies like Netflix have spent a lot on optimizing their in-app experience, building their own content recommendation technologies to make sure consumers keep watching their shows. From Netflix’s vantage point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make it easier to mix and match its content with that of other providers.
Companies like Netflix, Google, Amazon and Apple typically don’t talk about the details of their agreements — but it looks like Apple and Netflix just couldn’t come to terms on this new TV app.