But navigating separate apps is a horrible way to watch TV, and it seems like Apple has finally seen the light.
Apple's big TV plan now revolves around building an advanced TV guide that will tie content services like Netflix, HBO, and ESPN together, industry sources told Recode’s Peter Kafka.
Last year, Apple was working on actually selling a TV package of its own, a take on the "skinny bundle" that everyone from Hulu to YouTube to AT&T is rumored to be launching.
But now it’s just focused on building the interface. "[Apple] is letting programmers, distributors and customers work out the money part among themselves," Kafka writes.
While a universal guide interface presents a pretty stark departure from what Apple has been saying publicly, it’s right in line with recent Apple TV updates, which emphasize things like Siri’s ability to circumvent the app system.
Beyond deeper Siri integration, in June, Apple also unveiled an Apple TV feature called "single sign-on." While Apple didn't go into the details of exactly how it would work, the idea is that a content service like Netflix or HBO would connect to Apple’s system in a way that lets you use a single login for all services on your Apple TV.
Recode points to this as the first part of Apple’s plan and it's easy to see why Apple is going this way.
Most people don't want to navigate 100 different app menus and designs, each ostensibly tailored to the type of TV content that lives within them. It's a pain to deal with an ESPN app, and a Netflix app, and a Showtime app, and a Sling TV app.
So most people, in their hearts, don't really want an Apple TV as it was initially conceived.
But they also don't want the type of awkward channel guide you get with most cable packages, according to Apple exec Eddy Cue.
"The fact that I have to set things to record seems idiotic. And channel guides — I get home and I want to watch a Duke basketball game; why do I have to go hunting to find out what channel it's on? Why can't I just say, 'I want to watch Duke basketball.' Or, even better, why doesn't the system know that? 'Here's the Duke basketball game.' Those technical capabilities exist today. They just don't exist for television,” Cue told the Hollywood Reporter.
So navigating both Apple TV and cable is a pain. This could be Apple's master plan.