Apple Updates Apple TV With HBO Go, WatchESPN, SkyNews

Apple, expected to introduce a TV set this year, has made one the most significant additions to Apple TV since its 2007 introduction.

Apple has added HBO Go and WatchESPN programming to Apple TV. Its June 19 announcement ushers in one of the biggest updates to the product since its 2007 debut.

Apple TV enables iTunes users to download and view video on an HDTV, as well as access their own music, videos and content.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said in a statement that HBO Go and WatchESPN are "some of the most popular iOS apps and are sure to be huge hits on Apple TV."

Apple also added Sky News, a 24/7 news feed to users in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland; Crunchyroll, the leading global video service for Japanese Anime and Asian media; and Qello, an on-demand streaming service for HD concerts and music documentaries.

New users can sign up for Qello and Crunchyroll on Apple TV, said Apple.

The company also shared that iTunes users have, to date, downloaded more than 1 million TV episodes and 380 million movies, and each day they're purchasing more than 800,000 TV episodes and 350,000 movies.

"We continue to offer Apple TV users great new programming options, combined with access to all of the incredible content they can purchase from the iTunes Store," said Cue.

Apple TV offers content from Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and live sports from the NBA, MLB and NHL.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged that the television market is an area "of intense interest" and one in great need of being updated. Despite rumors that Apple is working on an "iTV," as the media and analysts have dubbed it, no one at Apple will acknowledge that such a device is in the works.

If the reports are to be believed, Apple is studying the market and is unlikely to participate in it as Samsung has, with thin and attractive units that, despite having some new and very cool features, are rather thinking-in-the-box updates to what we all know televisions to be.

Topeka Capital analyst Brian White reported in April that Apple is not only working on an iTV that will come in 50-, 55- and 60-inch versions, but an "iRing" accessory that acts as a "navigation pointer for 'iTV,' enhancing the motion-detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote."

The rumored iWatch will also complement the effort, providing, with the iRing, "increased mobility around the home, supplanting the need to carry a smartphone around the house."

As TV sets face an overhaul, so too does television content, as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Roku and others compete for consumers' screen time.

Netflix boosted it bottom line, and its brand, with the creation of the original series "House of Cards." Amazon launched several television pilots that it let users vote on, to choose which would go into production, and earlier this month Amazon announced the addition of thousands of episodes of children's programming to its Prime Instant Video customers.

To foil Apple's latest effort to grab viewers, "Time Warner Cable Inc. and other pay-TV operators are offering incentives to media companies that agree to withhold content from Web-based entertainment services," Bloomberg reported June 19, citing people familiar with the matter.

The HBO Go app won't work for Apple TV subscribers of Charter Communications and DirecTV, and the ESPN service won't work for users of Dish Network or DirecTV, said the report.

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