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Apple TV Channels streaming service is here and wants to run the show

Get ready for another way to watch your shows in an already crowded battle for your views.

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Apple TV is set to expand under its new Apple TV Channels streaming service.

Apple

For Apple, there's no business like show business.

The tech giant unveiled its new streaming service Monday at its Apple Park  headquarters in Cupertino, California, offering a new way to watch shows and movies for cord-cutters.

"Our vision for Apple TV app is to bring together your favorite shows, movies, sports and news and make them available on all of your devices," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

The new service is called Apple TV Channels, and it combines everything for viewers, like sports, news and network TV, as well as subscriptions you already have from services such as HBO, Showtime and CBS All Access. (Note: CBS All Access is owned by CBS, the parent company of CNET)

"We designed a new TV experience where you can pay for only the channels you want, all in one app," Peter Stern, Apple's vice president of services, said at the event.

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The shows are on-demand and ad-free, and viewers can watch them even when they're offline. 

"This is how TV should work," Stern said.

The new service will come through a software update in May, and the Apple TV app will be coming to MacOS in the fall. 

Stern said the Apple TV app will be coming to smart TVs, starting with Samsung's TVs in the spring. It'll also be coming to smart TVs from Sony, LG and Vizio, as well as devices like Roku and Amazon's streaming sticks.

The service comes at a time when Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others have benefited from cord-cutting, or consumers ditching their traditional cable subscriptions in favor of smaller Internet-powered streaming bundles. On-demand TV services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu offer thousands of videos to stream on-demand, while services like Sling TV, DirecTV Now and YouTube TV let you watch live TV over the internet.

Now Apple wants to make the content you're viewing, not just the devices you're watching it on.

The company in 2017 hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony Pictures Television to oversee "all aspects of video programming." The two were responsible for shows such as Breaking Bad, The Crown and Rescue Me. And in the past year, Apple has continually announced original content it's producing -- including a multiyear partnership deal with Oprah and deals with Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams and dozens of others.

Apple's announcements on Monday were less focused on hardware -- the company last week unveiled updates to the AirPods and a new iPad Mini -- and more focused on content like the new streaming service.

Apple, which became the US' first trillion-dollar company last year, has been struggling in recent months. The company makes about two-thirds of its revenue from the iPhone, but people aren't buying as many smartphones as they used to. They're holding onto their devices longer, and in places like China, they're increasingly opting for phones from Apple's rivals like Huawei and Oppo. That means Apple has to grow its operations beyond the iPhone, and it's counting on its services operations to become an even bigger business.

The area, which includes the App Store and Apple Music, has been soaring thanks to all of us who own the 1.4 billion active Apple devices out there. In the December quarter, Apple's services business revenue jumped 19 percent to a record $10.9 billion. The App Store, Apple Pay, cloud services and Apple's App Store search ad business set all-time records during the period, and Apple Music now has over 50 million paid subscribers. It also has 360 million people paying for App Store subscriptions.

Apple's services business, which includes the App Store and Apple Music, has been soaring thanks to all of us who own the 1.4 billion active Apple devices out there. In the December quarter, Apple's services business revenue jumped 19 percent to a record $10.9 billion. Apple Music now has over 50 million paid subscribers, and across all of its services, Apple has 360 million subscribers, up 120 million from the previous year.

Shows have not been a main source of income for Apple, but the tech giant hopes to change that with its new service.

In the early days of Apple TV, the company positioned its streaming media box as a "hobby." Still, it was the most popular device of its kind, even without getting a hardware refresh for three years. Apple finally updated Apple TV in late 2015, releasing it with new software -- TVOS -- that lets developers make apps, and a new remote that works with Siri. Two years later, Apple updated its Apple TV with 4K capabilities and even added support for Amazon Prime. 

Originally published March 25 at 10:58 a.m. PT. 
Updated at 11:05 a.m. PT: To add details on when Apple Channels will debut.

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