The New Apple TV is Great, But It's Not The Ultimate Cord Cutting Device

I received my Apple TV last weekend. I posted some of my initial thoughts, If you want a more comprehensive review I suggest those written by Christina Warren and David Pogue. I’ve had some time to think a bit more on Apple TV and what it means for the future of TV.

The 4th Generation Apple TV is a device that plays catch up in many ways to competing set top boxes. This box finally gains features competitors like the Roku and Fire TV have and for years, an App development platform and voice search. Because of Apple’s dominance with iOS I have no doubt that it won’t be long before the number of Apple TV Apps eclipses those available for competing platforms.

I’m a “cord cutter” and well entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. You’d think I’d be the primary audience for the Apple TV. Nevertheless, despite its improvements, Apple TV is still relegated to “HDMI 2” status on my TV and is my secondary box. Right now it still doesn’t bring all the pieces together to be the ultimate cord cutting box.

For starters, Apple TV has no support for HD antennas nor DVR functionality to record OTA programing. Honestly, this isn’t surprising - Apple firmly believes the future of TV is Apps, not broadcast television. Unfortunately despite there being apps for ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on my Apple TV, I can’t access most of the content available through those apps because I’m not a cable or satellite television subscriber. I can however, receive all these channels over the air.

There are a few Apps that give me access to similar content on the Apple TV. CBS All Access is available for $6 per month and Hulu starting at $8. Unfortunately, subscripting to these packages is not as good as an experience as a TiVo connected to an HD antenna for broadcast television.

Interestingly, just last week it was announced the new Star Trek series launching in 2017 will be available exclusively through CBS’s All Access Streaming Service. I’m not sure what to make of this. Is it a sign that CBS is saying streaming is the waive of the future and they’re launching one of their landmark shows exclusively on the service? Or is this CBS not willing to say no to the Star Trek franchise but hedging their bets and not giving up valuable prime time after the ratings failure of Star Trek: Enterprise? As a life-long Trekkie (yes, I actually own a pair of Spock ears) I will begrudgingly start paying for an All Access Subscription when Star Trek airs for access to this one show. Perhaps that will be my gateway show.

What about non-broadcast packages? Apple TV has apps for many networks including CNN and ESPN, but again - these apps require a cable subscription to access most of the content, including live TV streams. I would gladly pay a couple bucks a month via in-app purchase to be able to watch CNN or HGTV on my Apple TV. All the pieces are in place to offer a service like this but they haven’t come together.

The new Apple TV has a lot to offer, but I’m still waiting for the future of TV.