Here’s What You Need To Know About The Big 3 OTT Platforms: Apple TV

By Chris Smith on August 02, 2016

In a world drowning in OTT devices, there has to be a few that rise to the top. This is Part 3 of a 4 part series putting a spotlight on the Big 3 OTT Platforms to keep your eye on — don’t forget to read Part 1 to learn about the 5 OTT platform characteristics that content owners should care about, and Part 2 to see the first of the big 3.

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Here’s the second OTT platform you absolutely need to know:


Apple is a behemoth, but the Apple TV isn’t only on this list because of the brand’s massive user reach. There are a lot of reasons why customers and content owners flock to the platform, and it’s the sum of those parts that add up to why it’s so successfully huge, and yet not powerful enough to own the OTT sphere.


1. Consumer Ease of Use

Apple TV is super familiar to the typical consumer because it looks pretty much exactly like the Apple app store. It’s clean and uncluttered, and the Apple brand is as much of a status these days as it is a signifier of high quality hardware and user experience.

The UI and UX are also extremely easy to grasp — something that Steve Jobs always wanted a part of the design. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, tech-inclined, or have trouble turning on a computer… Apple prides itself on simplicity that enables users to simply pick up the remote (or phone), and voila, it’s off to the races.

One of the most interesting ways Apple enhances that ease is through the voice search functionality, Siri, which, starting with the newest generation of Apple TV, is built into the remote.

Another great thing about tvOS and the Apple TV is the ability to “pin” favorite channels to your home screen without having to search for them every time. It’s also nice that the platform makes great use of deep linking, which enables users to search for content within apps, not just the apps themselves.

The hardware itself is also simple, taking just minutes to plug into the power and your TV, and the remote has very few buttons and a touch sensitive area for easy scrolling. The Apple TV remote looks elegant; however, usability leaves much to be desired when compared to the not-as-pretty yet ergonomic Roku remote.

There is, however, a slight downside to Apple TV search. Apple decided to design search for the Apple TV using a single line of characters to represent the entire alphabet, as opposed to a grid system presenting characters across multiple rows and columns. This means you have to scroll back and forth through the entire alphabet to type out your search query. Although voice search via Siri relieves this a little bit, it’s still inconvenient. This could make searching for a show that starts with “Z” really, really annoying.

Because you’re paying for the name as much as you’re paying for the product, Apple TV is on the pricier side of OTT devices. At the time of writing this, the 32GB version is $149.99, which is the cheapest option of the current generation. You can probably find one refurbished at this point, but you’ll find you’re still spending more money going down that route than if you selected the still-relevant Roku 3, which is $99.99. A Roku 4 (if you need 4K) will set you back $129.99.


2. Discovery

Shockingly, Apple TV has no “recent” section, so new channels don’t automatically get a spotlight after hitting the store, no matter how popular they might be out of the gate. Users will have to search for you every time, unless they choose to “pin” your channels to their home screen.


3. Monetization Capabilities

Apple TV is flexible when it comes to monetization, and permits all monetization methods. However. If you decide to go with a native subscription, keep in mind that Apple takes 15%.


4. Audience Reach and Ecosystem

Apple’s reputation of having luxury hardware and experiences offers a huge benefit to putting your content on the Apple TV — think of it as high end, quality guilt by association. Apple products, though they may not be the first ones to enter a market, are fast followers, challengers and innovators (even if adoption rates for a few of them are slowing down). In 2015, Apple TV doubled its sale s; however, it has still trailed behind Amazon Fire TV and Roku sales.

Apple fans are eager for the latest Apple devices and are willing to pay a premium, but plenty of customers are forced to look elsewhere to fill their video streaming needs due to budget constrictions. A typical Apple consumer has more discretionary income which could translate to more money to spend on SVOD services outside of the Netflix/Hulu OTT industrial complex.

You might also be surprised to hear that Apple TV is a gamer-supported platform — it attracts people who aren’t necessarily die hard Apple fans, but also passionate gamers.


5. Ability to Execute

Since tvOS is based on iOS, it’s very familiar to iOS developers, making it easier to create channels. As you would expect from an Apple product, Apple TV’s basic templates and the visual elements are sleek, polished, and aesthetically appealing.

As far as time goes, Apple can be strict during the app review process, which is both good and bad; it might feel like it takes forever to get your app approved (it really does vary), but at least the finished product will be excellent.


When it comes to ease of use, aesthetics and the the familiar Apple feel, it’s a no-brainer that we had to include it on our list of the Big 3 OTT platforms you need to know inside and out.

Stay tuned for the final installment of our Big 3 OTT Platforms series, where we’ll unveil the third and final platform on the list!

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