Apple launches Amazon Channels competitor, offers downloads for HBO content

Apple says it will be the first platform to offer downloads for HBO movies and shows like “Game of Thrones.” (Apple)

Apple has officially launched its Amazon Channels competitor that offers a single platform for subscription services from HBO, Showtime and more.

The service is part of an Apple TV update that’s rolling out today in more than 100 countries to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV along with all 2019 Samsung smart TVs and select 2018 models. The update is coming for Mac in the fall.

Apple previously announced that its TV app will launch on Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices but didn’t mention those platforms with its announcement today.

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AirPlay 2 support for some Samsung smart TVs is also launching today. Eligible Vizio, LG and Sony smart TVs are getting AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support later this year.

In the U.S. the service will offer access to Starz, Smithsonian Channel, Epix, Tastemade and new services like MTV Hits. Apple TV+, the company’s subscription service for original content, is coming later this year.

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Apple’s Amazon Channels arrives with a fairly full lineup of more than 150 video apps including HBO, which was rumored to be on the fence about joining the service. A CNBC report from February suggested that revenue splits and data sharing were the sources of conflict in Apple’s negotiations with HBO. Apple is reportedly asking for a 30% cut on all subscribers who sign up for third-party services through the TV app.

Apple is letting up to six family members share subscriptions to Apple TV channels, and the company said that it is also allowing downloads of movies and TV shows for offline viewing. Apple says it will be the first platform to offer downloads for HBO movies and shows like “Game of Thrones.”

The update will also feature personalized recommendations for users and an Up Next section where users can find and watch content with activity synced across devices.

Apple is also adding a curated kids section and a redesigned library tab organized by recently added, downloaded genres.

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Roku is rolling out a discounted bundle deal for its users that buy both Showtime and Starz subscription streaming services on the Roku platform.