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How The New Apple TV Could Actually Be The Future Of Television

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the Apple TV product at the Apple event in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERG
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the Apple TV product at the Apple event in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERG

Apple showcased a host of revamped devices — the iPhone 6S, and an iPad Pro with more screen and a swanky smart keyboard accessory — during it’s much-anticipated September event Wednesday. But the show-stealing product was the new Apple TV, which combines the activities we do across devices onto one device, and looking past the hype could signify the end of TV as a cable company commodity.

Apple TV went virtually untweaked since its 2007 debut with update rumors falling flat at every product event. Apple has been exploring original content options a la Netflix, talking with Hollywood executives to lead original shows and movies on the new Apple TV, and was rumored by a Techcrunch report that it would team up with Twitter’s video-streaming app Periscope.

The new Siri-controlled Apple TV will feature a slew of apps and allows viewers to play games, shop, listen to music, and search for shows or movies based on vague descriptions. While Apple repeatedly called the updated set-top box “the future of TV,” executives neglected to talk about the real reason the device is the future now.

Apple is posited to be cable companies’ biggest foe: an over-the-top device that combines mobile-friendly apps, social media, and on-demand content. Cable companies have long dominated the airwaves, particularly live performances such as sporting events, but have struggled to compete with new services as consumers cancel their subscriptions and increasingly get their entertainment online.

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Apple can fill a void left, in part, by an important U.S. Supreme Court last year. The high court ruled against TV startup Aereo, calling the company’s business model of snagging over-the-air broadcast signals and allowing customers to stream live TV from their devices illegal. The company was growing and had service in more than 10 markets nationwide. Legality notwithstanding, the company fulfilled Americans growing appetite for controlling their television experience.

Periscope has that potential on its own with 10 million registered users and four decades worth of videos streamed daily, a chunk of which is pirated TV content — a problem that could be lessened should it pair with Apple TV. The app has been criticized as a result for its propensity for allowing users to stream what they’re watching. There were multiple reports of Periscopers streaming the popular HBO series Game of Thrones and the highly anticipated Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in May, which drew the ire of broadcasters. With Apple, Periscopers could potentially change that and allow users to stream legitimate content through the ephemeral-video app.

“It would be really nice if our friends in the Valley would quit hiding behind the idea that they don’t have to engage in the protection of intellectual property,” ESPN President John Skipper previously said in response to the upcoming live-streaming apps. Sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, boxing matches or the Grand Slam, are contracted to networks and are one of the last content strongholds broadcasting companies have and aren’t easily streamed.

Periscope CEO Kayvon Beykpour fired back saying, “Nobody wants to watch Game Of Thrones on Periscope” and that media coverage had overblown the problem. The company has been working to take down pirated content.

Should the Periscope-Apple TV become one, consumers would be able to combine social networking, real-time content that is either scattered across the internet or bound to network contracts, even sports, onto one platform — legally and in one place. And even if the deal doesn’t come to fruition, Apple’s new TV OS could bring us closer to that reality.