Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) newest software for Apple TV allows users to stream live content from MLB.tv and the NBA's League Pass service. Interested users will pay $20 a month or $99 a year for MLB.tv while NBA League Pass usually costs around $200 per year.
As one-offs, neither partnership means much. But look at Apple TV as a whole, and you'll find a rapidly maturing platform for televised and filmed entertainment.
The Mac maker's partner roster stretches from News Corp.'s (Nasdaq: NWS ) 20th Century Fox and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) studios in movies to the major TV networks to digital video distributors YouTube and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) . And now, you can add big-time sports to the list.
I see an ecosystem forming. Unlike Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Prime or Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) search-centric Google TV offering, Apple TV is combining hardware, software, and distribution into a compelling and easy-to-set-up whole. A Mac for your living room, in other words.
Consider AirPlay, which allows an iPad or other iOS device to control playback on Apple TV. By itself, the feature doesn't mean much. But when you consider estimates call for tens of millions of iPad 2s to be sold this year alone -- and with both the iPad and Apple TV built to aggregate great content from a wide variety of sources -- it looks as if Apple is creating an interesting entertainment hub.
I'm not the only one who thinks so. Dan Frommer over at Business Insider recently found the $99 Apple TV to be Amazon's 10th-best-selling electronics device. Pretty compelling for a product that was once considered a hobby.
Apple can't say that anymore. This is no hobby; it's a business. And by the looks of it, a well-positioned business that could bring billions to a company already blessed with too much cash. Well-played, Apple.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Apple TV, the battle for the living room, and what all this means for the traditional cable operators using the comments box below.
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