NBC’s live sports app lands on the Apple TV, but don’t forget your cable subscription

nbc live sports app apple tv
The current generation Apple TV hardware may be stagnating — it’s been more than two years since the last revision, after all — but that doesn’t mean content providers aren’t still showing the media streamer some love. Take NBC, for instance: on Monday, the network’s NBC Sports Live Extra app, previously exclusive to smartphones and tablets, made the jump to Apple TV.

The app, which also came to Roku, mostly mirrors the mobile interface. You get live streams of popular events like the Stanley Cup playoffs, plus Winter and Summer Olympics coverage, NFL pre-season and post-season games, the PGA Tour, the Premier League, and more. NBC’s original sports programming is present and accounted for, too — you can play back episodes of The Dan Patrick Show and Men In Blazers endlessly, if you so desire.

It may not come as a surprise considering NBC’s parent company is Comcast, but accessing most of the content requires an authenticated cable subscription. In the face of an unprecedented transition toward a la carte offerings, the restriction is becoming less common: HBO and CBS both offer standalone subscription services, for instance. NBC is said to be working on its own comedy-focused service that won’t require a pay-TV subscription, but even for CBS’ $6/month offering, sports remain a barrier to those looking to ditch pay-TV completely.

NBC’s reticence isn’t exactly unprecedented. Apple is likely to launch a streaming TV service this fall, rumored to debut alongside refreshed Apple TV hardware, without NBC on board. The reasoning behind that decision is unclear — Sony’s Vue service carries NBC’s channels — but it could be due to some bad blood between Comcast and Apple in relation to a collaboration effort for Apple’s proposed streaming service the two were rumored to be working on last year.

Apple’s managed to sell north of 25 million Apple TVs altogether, which is penetration, and by extension potential revenue, that few other media streamers can match. As Apple looks to expand its reach into streaming content even further this year, we’ll have to wait and see if Comcast-owned NBC will be a part of that new effort.

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