Apple may still have big plans to disrupt the traditional TV business, but the tech giant has been leaning more on the friend side of the friend-foe line when it comes to pay television.
Apple TV users now have access to Disney’s Watch Disney Junior service — but it’s available only to subscribers of participating cable, satellite and telco TV providers. About a month ago, Disney Channel and Disney XD authenticated became available on the device.
Those come after Apple TV in June added Disney’s WatchESPN and Time Warner’s HBO Go, which are also available only with a subscription with participating pay TV providers.
Undoubtedly, a portion of Apple TV users are “cord-cutters” who have dropped cable TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes or some combination of those and other services. But the addition of pay-TV-only services to the set-top should help sway those on the fence about canceling their cable or satellite package — not to mention remind cord-cutters what they’re missing.
The three Disney “TV Everywhere” services are currently available through Comcast, Cox, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, Charter, Cablevision Systems and Midcontinent Communications. The biggest operators not on board at this point are DirecTV, Dish and Time Warner Cable.
Also Thursday, Apple TV added Major League Soccer’s Internet-video service, which includes free on-demand video highlights, player profiles and other programming. An MLS Live subscription, which starts at $14.99 per month, provides access to live streaming and archived versions of regular-season matches (subject to blackout rules). The MLS service also is available on Roku, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android phones and tablets, and Windows 8 tablets.
Other channels on Apple TV include Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, MLB.tv, NBA.com League Pass, NHL GameCenter, Vevo, The Weather Channel, Vimeo and Smithsonian Channel.
Apple says it has sold more than 13 million of the $99 Internet-connected set-top boxes to date, about half of which shipped in 2012.
Earlier this week, Apple re-released a software update for Apple TVs after the initial release last Friday disabled some devices. The 6.0 update adds iTunes Radio, direct streaming of iTunes content from the cloud and other features.