The difference between Apple TV Channels and standalone custom Apple TV Apps

Robert Blessing

March 26, 2019

Apple just announced their new Apple TV App together with Apple TV Channels. Additionally, there is still the option to build your own custom streaming app for Apple TV. So let me explain what is the difference between the new Apple TV App and the existing option to build your own branded video app for Apple TV.

Custom Streaming Apps for Apple TV

Since the launch of the 4th Apple TV generation, there is the possibility to publish apps for Apple TV. It works more or less the same as for the iPhone: Apple TV has an app store and users can search for their app and download it to their Apple TV device. So by creating your own video streaming app for Apple TV you have all the options to customize the look and feel to match your brand and can control how and what video content you want to show. For example, you can give your users an on-demand video library and add a live streaming section to your own custom Apple TV App.

Apple TV Channels work a bit different

Apple TV Channels is something that does not work standalone, but is integrated into Apple’s new streaming app called “Apple TV App”. Apple announced that their “Apple TV App” will not only be available on Apple TV devices but also on Amazon Fire, Roku and smart TVs from Samsung, LG and others.

Instead of opening separate TV apps on your Apple TV, you can now watch shows and films directly in the “Apple TV App” independently if the show is made available from Apple or external streaming services. You just have to subscribe (aka pay) to these external streaming services, which Apple calls “Apple TV Channels”.

Once you subscribe to an “Apple TV Channel”, it is added inside the Apple TV App. By partnering with popular channels like HBO, Starz or SHOWTIME, Apple aims to become the one-stop shop to discover and watch TV shows and movies.

Will Apple TV Channels be open for every video content owner?

“Apple TV Channels” sounds very promising for independent video creators. You’d instantly get to an audience in 100+ countries and you won’t have to develop your own custom tvOS app anymore.

So as a video content owner or creator, you’re probably asking yourself how to partner with Apple to be integrated as an “Apple TV Channel” in Apple’s new “Apple TV App”?

There are not yet too many details released about Apple’s new Apple TV Channels. So what do we know so far:

  • Apple TV Channels will be paid subscriptions – in Apple’s words “only pay for what you want”.
  • It’s for on-demand and ad-free content.
  • And Apple aims to ensure “best picture and sound” quality.

Why “Apple TV Channels” is not an option for independent video creators (and what to do instead)

We assume that “Apple TV Channels” will just be open for big streaming companies and pay-TV services like Amazon Prime, Hulu or DirectTV Now and not for all small and medium-sized media and entertainment businesses.


Well, first, because by opening it up to every video creator, the new Apple TV App would be too crowded.

Secondly, Apple wants to ensure a superior video streaming quality and hence will store and stream all video content from Apple’s servers. Dealing with all the video streams from all video creators will just not be manageable by Apple nor be of any interest.

So as an independent filmmaker, a local TV station, a church or a sports team looking for a way to broadcast your videos to your community, you do NOT really have the choice to be integrated into the new Apple TV App.

Your only option to get your video content on Apple TV would be to create an own custom TV app for Apple TV (which is luckily super easy with Tappla’s DYI Apple TV App Builder).

Also, Apple TV Channels are only for ad-free content and only for on-demand. So in case you want to earn money with ad revenue or have live streams to broadcast, your only option is then to build your own custom tvOS app for Apple TV.

What is the fastest & easiest way to create and publish your TV app to Apple TV

We created Tappla to make it easy and fast to launch your own custom TV app for Apple TV. And that’s why we build a Do-It-Yourself platform where you just connect your video streams, customize the look and feel with an easy drag and drop editor and publish your Apple TV app with the help of our submission team.

Sounds interesting? You can try it out our Apple TV app builder for free here.

Think creating your own custom streaming app for Apple TV is too difficult or too expensive? It won’t be with Tappla! Just connect your videos, upload your logo, and you’re ready to launch your own TV app for Apple TV.


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