While on-demand video services like Netflix and Hulu are always convenient, sometimes it’s necessary to be on the same page with the rest of the universe by watching a live TV show. Thanks to the new App Store on the Apple TV, dozens of television networks and services are able to release apps that allow you to stream live television through the Internet.
There are three approaches these apps seem to take. The first and the best for you is completely free apps for live TV shows.
The second allows you to log in with your existing cable provider so you can watch live television free through the app (though technically you’re still paying for the TV service on your cable bill as you regularly would).
The third and final category requires subscriptions separate from cable and costs an additional fee for live programming.
Take a look at both and the options currently available in the App Store.
Most of the completely free to use apps are news broadcasting apps. For instance in America, ABC News offers an app without any subscription necessary that delivers live streams of breaking news events as well as on-demand shows like “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.” The app also provides access to over 20 local news broadcasts across the country.
Examples of other apps like this that provide free, live TV streaming are Bloomberg TV, CBS News and Sky News (UK).
Free with Cable Subscription
The bulk of live TV apps on Apple TV require that you have an existing cable subscription in order to get access. This means that upon downloading these apps, you’ll have to sign in with your cable provider credentials to verify that you’re already paying for access to the channel. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use these apps.
Apps that provide free live TV on Apple TV with an existing cable subscription include Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD, Watch ESPN, Showtime and Fusion.
Note: Before you download an app, make sure your U.S. cable provider is supported. Watch ESPN and others supports login with AT&T U-Verse, Bright House, Charter, Comcast Xfinity, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Google Fiber, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum, Time Warner Cable or Verizon FiOS TV.
When you download the app for the first time, you’ll have to verify you’re a cable subscriber upon trying to watch live TV. Often, this requires visiting a website on your computer and entering the activation code shown on screen.
With Added Subscription Price
A few live TV apps want more than just a cable subscription. That’s right, you’ll have to pay even more for access to these and they’re mostly sports apps. They’re free to download and do have some features ready like on-demand videos, but for the live TV aspect, get ready to pay up.
Apps that require a subscription for live TV streaming include CBS, NBA and NHL. (CBS live TV is only available in select U.S. markets.) Prices range from $5.99 per month for the CBS All Access pass to a larger one-time fee for one game season in the sports apps. You can purchase subscriptions within the apps.
Other apps on Apple TV provide for plenty of entertainment, but typically don’t include live TV. Instead, many just offer on-demand shows and movies. Always check app descriptions before downloading for clarification and details on required subscriptions.