Apple TV (s aapl) got a software update today, too, alongside iOS 4.3 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple TV 4.3 introduces expanded AirPlay support for use with iOS devices, but also two new tricks that should have sports fans very eager to get their hands on the streaming device: MLB.tv and NBA League Pass access.
MLB.tv will allow subscribers to watch live spring training and regular season games on your Apple TV in HD (720p, which is the max the Apple TV supports) for $99.99 per year. You can also watch archived games, and check out home and away broadcasts if you’re a premium level subscriber ($119.99/year). You can quickly jump to run-scoring plays or specific players’ at-bats.
With NBA League Pass, you’ll get every regular season game live and archived (but only up to 24 hours afterwards for standard subscribers). You’ll also get access to scores and stats. Video access starts at $64.95 for limited access (seven teams’ games) or $99.95 for access to all NBA games.
This is terrific news for those looking to cut the cord but afraid they’ll miss out on live sports broadcasts in the process. Now they can watch all the baseball and basketball they can take from their Apple TV, either live or on a schedule of their choosing. The only downside is that, for MLB games at least, local blackouts still take effect, so you’ll likely be limited to out-of-market games for the most part.
The absence of live sports broadcasts from many cord cutting options definitely goes a long way toward keeping demand for cable subscriptions strong. I think this latest play from Apple could definitely help turn the tide in its favor.
For non-sports fans, the update also brings Dolby 5.1 surround sound support for Netflix (s nflx) streaming content (much appreciated by this user), and other minor UI changes and feature additions including a new on-screen keyboard.
Check out the video for our first look at the new MLB and NBA apps on Apple TV:
Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)
- Three Reasons Over-The-Top TV Apps Will Beat Big-Cable
- Will Cable Operators Let the Google Fox Into the Henhouse?
- Web-based Strategies for Engaging TV Viewers