Apple TV adds free, ad-based channels for ABC News, AOL On, and PBS Kids

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Apple TV users have snagged access to quite a hefty bundle of new content today as a result of a handful of deals with various networks and content providers. Though there’s been no official word from Apple, the company’s official “What’s on Apple TV” page now includes icons for PBS Kids, Willow TV, ABC News, and AOL On. All of the new content is entirely free, but ad-supported.

ABC announced today that it has launched a new Apple TV platform for its ABC News branch that will include up to four channels of live streaming video and live hourly updates at any one time, available via the “Streaming Now on ABC News” button at the top of the new app’s interface, 24/7. News will be broken down and categorized based on the stories themselves, so viewers who want varying degrees of depth for each story can watch one clip, or watch several that are related to the subject. The network has also opened up its 50 years’ worth of archives as a new source for content, the first application of which will be a “This Week In History” feature updated weekly.

In addition to original programming such as Popcorn with Peter Travers, the new Apple TV channel will include nine affiliate ABC television stations for local news from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Fresno, Raleigh, and Milwaukee. All of the ABC News content is free to access, unlike the Watch ABC app for Apple TV launched late last year that required a cable subscription.

The addition of AOL On will bring a significant amount of video material to the Apple TV, including more than 900,000 videos, primarily short clips from AOL and AOL affiliates/partners like Huffington Post, TechCrunch, ESPN, and The New York Times. And there is even more free, long-form content on the horizon for AOL On. According to a report by CNET, the network is set to compete with video-streamers like Netflix by offering its content for free, supporting it with ads. This is looking like a potentially strong bet for AOL, considering the company is already working on its first long-form original series (Connected, a U.S. film inspired by an Israeli series) and has a deal with Miramax to bring full-length films to the network.

Finally, the addition of Willow TV brings comprehensive cricket coverage to Apple TV users, and the PBS Kids channel brings children’s television favorites such as Curious GeorgeDinosaur Train, Peg + CatDaniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, ArthurWild Kratts, and Sesame Street. According to a release from PBS, the user can personalize their child’s experience by creating a profile and identifying their local PBS station, similar to the app as offered by Roku and other streaming hardware. Offering video content specifically for children has become a must-have for any online video-streaming service – this move and the others certainly breathe new life into a device whose users have grown restless with the long gap between hardware updates.

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