A report from Thursday says Apple is working to improve its Apple TV offering by developing a universal digital television guide for its popular set top box.
Apple has started talking to TV programmers and other video companies about creating a digital TV guide that would work on both Apple TV boxes and other Apple devices, like iPhones.
Apple looks to improve content discovery of everything that is available on the numerous television channels available on the Apple TV from content providers such as Netflix, HBO, Showtime, and ESPN. The digital guide would inform users about what is available on each channel without the need to individually load each provider’s app. The guide would allow viewers to play TV shows and movies from any provider with one click of their Siri Remote.
Industry sources say Apple’s plans are an outgrowth of the TV service it wanted to launch last year. The difference is that in 2015, Apple wanted to sell TV programming directly to consumers and provide them with a new interface that would make it easy to find the stuff they paid for.
Now Apple is just working on the interface. It is letting programmers, distributors and customers work out the money part among themselves.
Recode says the single sign-on feature Apple announced earlier this year – which allows users to sign in once and access all of the apps that require cable authorization, and will be a feature of tvOS 10, which will debut on devices later this year – is just the first step in Apple’s Apple TV guide plans.
While Apple already has much of the data it needs for the TV guide, via the information it uses to power Siri’s Universal Search feature, the Cupertino firm is said to be asking for additional metadata to power the full guide.
While the TV guide would make things much more convenient for viewers, television executives who spoke to Recode were less than enthusiastic about the proposed feature.
They like the idea of making their individual shows easier to find, but they worry that moving consumers’ focus from their individual apps to a universal guide will reduce their power to promote their other shows.
Some of them also suggest that Apple’s plan would irk pay TV distributors like Comcast and Charter, which are used to controlling TV navigation through their own guides.
Apple refused to comment on the story.