What Channels Support Universal Search on Apple TV?

What is Universal Search? Who Supports It? How to Use it?

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How Do You Find The Right Channels in a Non-Linear TV age?. Getty

Apple TV offers a feature called Universal search. The feature lets users search for shows using Siri or by typing into a search field with their virtual keyboard or other device.

What is Universal Search?

Universal Search lets you look for something across multiple applications from wherever you happen to be. You use it to find shows and other media from anywhere in the tvOS interface using text, dictation or Siri on your Siri Remote.

It means you aren’t required to flick between all your different TV-related apps in order to search each one for your chosen piece of content individually, just search once and your Apple TV will find what you seek where it exists across every channel that supports the feature.

The feature is also smart enough to know which services you are already subscribed to, and will highlight free and subscription-based providers for the content you might seek.

This means it can also help you find seasons TV shows that are available on multiple free and fee-based services, while more recent seasons may only be available for a subscription fee. So if you search for ‘Game of Thrones’ you will see what series are available across all your installed and supported apps, with more recent seasons probably only available for a fee.

Like Siri on Apple TV which is only available in eight countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK, USA), there is some way to go before Universal Search can be seen as fully deployed.

Right now it is efficiently supported only in the US, but this will be extended as developers use Apple’s API’s in their apps in order to make them compatible with Universal Search.

Why support Universal Search?

When the Apple TV 4 was introduced, the universal search feature only worked across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Showtime at launch.

Explaining why Universal Search matters, Apple CEO, Tim Cook told BuzzFeed: “Think about your experience today. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have the content you want to watch in an app, you sometimes don’t remember exactly where that show is, so you’re going to Netflix or Hulu or Showtime. You shouldn’t have to do that. It should be very simple,” he explained.

“At launch, we’ll have iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and HBO — so we’ll have five major inputs into universal search initially…We’re also opening an API so that others can join in.

How to implement Universal Search?

Apple’s Universal Search API’s are available for use by registered developers through the Apple Developer website.

If you are interested in learning more about such deployments Apple has a huge host of video resources to help you get started that it makes available here.

Who supports Universal Search today?

This is the complete list of channels that support the feature today, according to Apple. These are subject to change, particularly as international deployment extends.

United States

  • Movies and TV shows in iTunes 
  • ABC
  • A&E
  • Bravo
  • CBS
  • Comedy Central
  • Cooking Channel
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Jr
  • Disney XD
  • DIY
  • E!
  • Food Network
  • FOXNOW
  • FXNOW
  • FYI
  • HBO GO
  • HBO NOW
  • HGTV
  • History
  • Hulu
  • Lifetime
  • MTV
  • Nat Geo TV
  • NBC
  • Netflix
  • PBS
  • PBS Kids
  • SHOWTIME
  • SHOWTIME Anytime
  • Starz
  • Syfy
  • Travel Channel
  • USA
  • VH1

 Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and United Kingdom

  • Movies and TV shows in iTunes
  • Netflix

Other countries and regions

  • Movies in iTunes