Watching TV on the iPhone is a great way to catch up on a show you missed, stay entertained while someone is dominating the TV or with the help of an Apple TV, drive the entertainment for the entire room.
There are a number of apps to watch live TV on the iPhone and a others that offer access to on demand programs from popular networks. We also have solutions to watch premium channels like HBO and Showtime on the iPhone for popular shows like Game of Thrones and Homeland. If you want to binge watch TV shows while on the go, you can also use apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and others to catch up on big name shows that are available from start to finish.
Some of these iPhone TV apps work with a monthly fee and others require a cable subscription to work. One solution offers free TV shows on the iPhone and on the other end of the spectrum a box you can connect to a cable box to watch live TV on the iPhone — with every channel that is on your cable plan.
While the iPad’s larger screen makes it the go to device for many users, the iPhone’s always on connectivity and pocket-ability make it a great way to watch TV as well. The small size makes the iPhone TV watching experience better for the gym, the train or just in between meetings.
Here are our favorite Apps for watching TV on the iPhone.
Time Warner TV
The TWC TV app for the iPhone offers live TV and on Demand programming to iPhone users and can act as a remote control for the Time Warner Cable box in your home.
This app works on the iPhone and iPad, and delivers up to 300 Live TV streaming options on the iPhone. Most of the Live TV options are only available on your home network, but there are a growing number of live TV streaming channels and on demand programs that users can watch while away from home over a cellular connection if they are on Verizon or another WiFi connection.
Download TWC TV free
The DirecTV iPhone app is a similar offering for users that subscribe to DirecTV, offering Live TV and movies from DirecTV Cinema on the iPhone at home and on the go. This includes access to HBO, Cinemax, STARZ and Encore as well.
The DirecTV iPhone app lets users set their DVR remotely and control the TV with voice commands. Users who subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket will need the individual app to watch Live NFL game on the iPhone.
Download DirecTV free
If you are a cable cutter that wants to watch TV on the iPhone, Hulu Plus is essential. It is also a good option for people with cable, but many of the shows will also be on Demand. As a DirecTV subscriber I use Hulu Plus to access Fox On Demand shows because DirecTV and Fox don’t work well together.
Hulu Plus is $7.99 a month and usually offers a 2 to 4 week free trial to see if it is something you like. The service includes many shows and movies. You can browse the shows online and watch many on your computer without a subscription, but a subscription unlocks mobile use and delivers deeper access to programs.
One thing users don’t like is that even paying users will see ads on Hulu Plus.
Download Hulu Plus for iPhone
The U-verse iPhone app lets users watch Live TV on the iPhone as well as on demand programs. The amount of live TV channels will drop when not on your home network, but you can watch while on the go.
One really nice feature on this iPhone TV app is the ability to download Video On Demand shows to the iPhone to watch later, like on a plane or when you don’t have a good connection.
Download U-verse for iPhone
Dish Network offers a Dish Anywhere iPhone app that allows users to watch live TV on the iPhone from anywhere with a data connection. You will need a compatible Dish Network box that includes the right technology to stream online or an adapter to make this work.
The upside is that with this technology you can watch more channels that other companies may block when outside of the home or simply won’t offer at all through their apps. Users can also transfer TV shows to the iPhone, including those from the DVR.
Download Dish Anywhere
The Xfinity TV Go app for iPhone lets users watch on Demand programs, and now offers Live TV streaming on the iPhone with the latest version. Users can also download TV shows and movies from Showtime, Streampix, Starz, Encore and MoviePlex to watch later.
This iPhone app only works online and offers limited channels so you may end up needing Hulu Plus to supplement the options available.
Download Xfinity for iPhone
The PBS iPhone app offers access to thousands of videos including TV shows like PBS Newshour and many other programs. This app is free to use and there is no need to be a cable subscriber to gain access to the streaming.
Parent can also grab the PBS Kids Video app to watch streaming PBS kids programs like Curious George, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, SUPER WHY!, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg + Cat, Sesame Street and more.
Download PBS for iPhone
The Netflix iPhone app doesn’t offer Live TV shows or the latest episodes of cable hits, but it does deliver an impressive catalog of TV seasons for big name shows on and off the air. There are also several Netflix specific TV series like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and others available to stream.
Membership is $7.99 a month and includes access to many movies, some that arrive not too long after coming to DVD, though others will require a long wait.
Download Netflix for iPhone
HBO GO, Showtime and Cinemax
If you subscribe to HBO, Showtime and Cinemax you can take your favorite shows with you and watch on the iPhone. You need a cable subscription and a subscription to the premium channel, and for some of these you will need to create a separate login and enter the password often, but it is a great way to watch the hottest shows.
We love the HBO Go app because it includes every episode of Game of Thrones as well as back episodes of The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and many other HBO Series.
TBS, TNT, NBC, TruTV and More
Many channels offer their own apps with access to original programming. You won’t find reruns of Friends or Big Bang Theory, but you will find shows that air on TNT, TBS Tru TV and others. The catch is you need to be a subscriber of a participating cable company for the access.
Overall this is a nice feature, but you can often find the same shows on your cable or satellite company app without the hassle of another login.
For sports fans, the options are limited, but the Watch ESPN app lets you watch ESPN programs live on the iPhone. You need a participating cable or satellite subscription, but many companies are participants so if you have cable odds are good you can use it.
The included channels are,
- ESPN Deportes
The app includes streaming of NBA Games, MLB, College football and basketball, Barclay’s Premier League, Spanish Primera Division and many other live events shown on ESPN.
Download Watch ESPN
SlingPlayer is an app for the iPhone that pairs with a Slingbox to stream live TV to the iPhone from your home. This will stream all of the channels on your home connection and works no matter where you or your iPhone is located on WiFi or cellular connections.
The catch is the that you need a Slingbox 500 or Slingbox 350 to make this work. The boxes retail for $269 and $148 respectively. The Slingbox 500 uses HDMI, but won’t work with everything so you will need to resort to Composite cables for most use. Read Slingbox 500 review.