Great Apps for Watching TV on Your iPhone

The golden age of television has reached the iPhone and iPad

Television fare isn't limited to your TV anymore. IPhone and iPad users can enjoy mobile television, thanks to apps from cable companies, TV networks, and online video providers like Hulu and Netflix. Some of these apps are free, and some require a subscription. Some require that you are signed up with a certain cable company. One way or another, you have plenty of options for getting TV programs to your iPhone. You won't ever be able to say "there's nothing to watch" again.

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A&E TV app
image copyright A&E

Get your fill of A&E reality shows like Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars with this app. You'll have access to deleted scenes and exclusive clips along with full episodes. You'll need a cable subscription with a participating provider to view episodes, but you can get some shows without logging in, which is somewhat uncommon. Logging in to your cable company account unlocks extra episodes. 

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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watch ABC TV app
image copyright ABC

ABC's app requires that you log in with your cable company account, but you'll find a host of interesting things when you do. There are all the free TV shows, of course, but there's also live streaming TV in many metropolitan areas. Plus, you can watch on the go. You can use the app to share video clips and discuss episodes on Facebook and Twitter while you watch.

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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Amazon Prime Video

Anyone with an Amazon Prime account can use the Prime Video app to stream thousands of free movies and TV shows. The app recommends shows for you and offers original programming such as  "The Grand Tour," "The Man in the High Castle," and the kid series "Tumble Leaf." Download movies and TV shows over a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to watch wherever you go.

Free app, but it requires an Amazon Prime account 

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AT&T U-Verse

AT&T U-verse Live TV
image copyright AT&T

AT&T's U-Verse app is a TV and internet access offering that's open to anyone in certain regions, not just U-verse customers. This app lets you watch live TV as well as shows on demand. Channel offerings include ESPN, Fox Sports, MTV, Disney Channel, Comedy Central, and more. Users can watch shows over 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi.

Free app, but a monthly subscription is required

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Bloomberg: Business News

Bloomberg app
image copyright Bloomberg

Keep up to date with the world of business and high finance using the Bloomberg Business News app. The app does more than provide 24-hour live access to Bloomberg TV and selected clips. You can use it to access stock market info and news on the economy, technology, and politics. It even offers tools for tracking your investments. 


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Bravo Now

Bravo Now TV app
image copyright Bravo

If you want to keep up with "Real Housewives," "Top Chef," "Million Dollar Listing," or any other Bravo series, the Bravo Now app is the place to do it. You have to log in to your cable account, but the app offers polls, trivia, photos, chat, and Bravo's watch-along system, SYNC, in addition to the TV programming. 

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network app
image copyright Cartoon Network

If you're hankering for some of the delightful weirdness or high adventure available in the lineup of Cartoon Network shows, you'll love this app. It's chock full of episodes of "Ben 10," "ThunderCats," and much more, but it's not all happy-happy-joy-joy: you must be a cable subscriber to watch full episodes and log in using your cable account. You can only watch shows if your cable company has a deal with Cartoon Network. 

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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CBS TV app
image copyright CBS

The CBS app is a bit different from that of the other TV networks. CBS offers free episodes of its shows — but only a few at a time. You might only be able to get the two most recent episodes of "NCIS," although push notifications let you know when a new episode is ready so that you won't miss it. If you subscribe to CBS All Access for a fee, you get access to new episodes on demand the day after they air. You also get live TV from some local stations, complete runs of current series, and over 6,500 episodes from the CBS archive of shows like "Star Trek," and "Big Brother." 

Free app 

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Comedy Central

comedy central app
image copyright Comedy Central

The Comedy Central app provides something that not all TV apps do. It allows you to watch episodes of shows live on your iPhone as they air on TV. You must be logged in to your cable account, but then you'll enjoy live streaming shows and access to a huge library of previous comedy programs and standup programming.  

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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Cox Contour

Cox tv app
image copyright Cox Communications

If you are a Cox Communications subscriber, you'll want to download the Cox Contour app to watch live TV and on-demand shows at home or away from home. You can watch any channel you subscribe to using the app. You can also control your DVR. 

Free app, but it requires a Cox subscription

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crackle app icon
image copyright Sony

Sony has a huge library of content, and Crackle is the way to access it. Everything offered here was  produced by Sony, from TV shows such as "Seinfeld," "Shark Tank," and "Wheel of Fortune" to movies such as "The Amazing Spiderman 2" and "Robocop." You'll find original content, too. Best of all, watching doesn't cost a thing.

Free app

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crunchyroll app icon
image copyright Crunchyroll

Th Crunchyroll app is heaven for anime fans. Crunchyroll's subscription service delivers more than 25,000 episodes from series such as "Attack on Titan" and "Blue Exorcist." Crunchyroll offers a free, seven-day trial, but after that, you need a subscription. The higher-level, all-access membership removes ads, provides access to new episodes one hour after they air in Japan, delivers content in HD, and lets you watch on PlayStation, Apple TV, Xbox, and other media devices.

Modest fee for the standard subscription, slightly more for an all-access membership

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The CW

CW TV app
image copyright The CW

With the CW app, you get on-demand access to the CW's hit shows such as "Riverdale," "Supergirl," "Legends of Tomorrow," and "Reign." Beyond TV, you'll also be able to stream original web-only series from CW. Best of all, you can watch the shows without a cable subscription.

Free app, no cable subscription necessary

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DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket

Direct TV nfl sunday ticket app
copyright DirecTV

NFL fans know about DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket offering that allows them to watch every football game played every week. A much smaller number of gridiron junkies know that Sunday Ticket is available for iPhone without a full DirecTV subscription. This means you can get all the football you want without installing a satellite dish at your home. Warning: This isn't one of the cheaper subscriptions. 

Free app with subscription

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Discovery GO

discovery network app
image copyright Discovery

Keep up with "Deadliest Catch," "Naked and Afraid," "MythBusters," and other Discovery Channel programming with the Discovery GO app. You get full episodes, live TV, short video clips, and a schedule of what's being broadcast on Discovery.

Free app

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DISH Anywhere

dish anywhere app
image copyright DISH network

DISH isn't a network like NBC or ESPN. It's the equivalent of a cable company. Its app gives you access to virtually anything available from DISH on your iPhone, including live TV, sports, news, and shows on the major networks. Use the app to schedule your DVR up to seven days in advance and to transfer recordings from your DVR to your iPhone for viewing. There are a lot of requirements, though. You'll need Hopper with Sling, a Slingloaded DVR, or another DVR with Slingbox features a DISH network subscription, and one of the following receivers: 512, 522, 612, 622, 625, 722, 722k, 922, Hopper, or Hopper with Sling.

Free app

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watch disney channel app
image copyright Disney Channel

The Disney Channel app offers live TV and on-demand streaming of TV episodes, as you'd expect. Where the app becomes cool is with the extra features it adds. The app offers built-in games that feature Disney Channel stars and gives users access to stream Disney Radio. If your kids are young, you'll appreciate the ability to set the app to Disney Junior Mode, which limits the app to only Disney Junior shows.

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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fios mobile tv app
image copyright Verizon

This app allows you to stream live TV, view on-demand video and download shows to take with you wherever you are if you subscribe to Verizon's FiOS TV and internet service. The app can also be used as a remote control for your TV. It can manage your DVR, and you can watch local TV channels in several metropolitan cities. You need a FiOS Wi-Fi router to stream TV to your phone in your home. 

Free app, but it requires a Verizon FiOS subscription

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Food Network

watch food network app
image copyright Food Network

Series like "Chopped," "Barefoot Contessa," and "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" are available through the Food Network app. Logging in unlocks the full library of episodes. The app can also sync your progress in each episode to other devices via iCloud so you can pick up where you left off even if you're no longer watching on your iPhone. AirPlay support video streaming to an Apple TV.

Free app, but it requires a subscription with a participating cable company

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HBO GO app
image copyright Home Box Office

A lot of people subscribe to HBO for its original shows like "Game of Thrones," "Vinyl," and "Ballers." Thanks to this app, you don't have to be near your home cable box to watch them on your iPhone. As long as you're an HBO subscriber, you have this app, and your cable company has a deal with HBO to allow it, you can watch full episodes on your phone. 

Free app, but requires HBO and cable subscriptions and a participating cable company

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HGTV watch app
image copyright HGTV

If you're a subscriber to one of eight major cable companies, the HGTV app delivers the latest episodes of major home-related series such as "Fixer Upper,","Flip or Flop," and "Property Brothers." You can subscribe to shows, destinations, hosts, and interests to ensure that you are notified about episodes that interest you. The app also supports AirPlay so that you can stream episodes from your iPhone to your Apple TV.   

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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history channel tv app
image copyright History Channel

The History app offers a limited number of free episodes along with deleted scenes and exclusive clips, even if you don't have a cable subscription. More episodes are unlocked if you have a subscription, however. Use this app to enjoy shows such as "Forged in Fire," "American Pickers," and "Ancient Aliens." 

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company for the most episodes 

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Hulu Plus
image copyright Hulu

Hulu has been offering tons of great free TV shows since 2007. Unfortunately, the "free" part doesn't apply to iPhone, iPad, and iPod users. You're limited to paid Hulu services on iOS. You can select a plan that includes Hulu's entire streaming library or opt for live and on-demand options.

Free app, but it requires a monthly subscription

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lifetime tv app
image copyright Lifetime

The Lifetime app offers the same type of deal as A&E and the History Channel. You get a few free episodes, deleted scenes and some clips without logging in to your cable account, and you get a lot more episodes when you do log in. You'll find all the popular Lifetime shows like "Dance Moms," "Married at First Sight," and "Project Runway." 

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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Max Go

cinemax go app
image copyright Cinemax Go

Cinemax subscribers may want to check out this companion app. It streams original programming from Cinemax, Hollywood movies, and behind-the-scenes content. There isn't a Cinemax app for the Apple TV, but Max Go supports AirPlay so you can stream its content to your Apple TV.

Free, but requires Cinemax and cable subscriptions and a participating cable company

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MLB at Bat

mlb at bat app
copyright Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball has long been a leader in offering its game digitally. Its MLB.TV service was the first live-game streaming offered by a major pro sports league in the U.S. With the MLB at Bat app, you can watch live games, classic matchups, and highlights with a subscription. Subscribe month-to-month or for the entire season to save some money. You sign up via in-app purchase.

Free app, but it requires a subscription 

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MTV app
image copyright MTV Networks

MTV's app delivers all the content you'd expect and then some. If you have a cable subscription, you can get original MTV series like "Teen Wolf," "Teen Mom," and "Scream." You'll also get original web series, online exclusives, live coverage of music festivals, and events like Comic-Con, and more.

Free app, but it requires a cable subscription with a participating company

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nba game time app
copyright National Basketball Association

The NBA app lets you follow the excitement and drama of the NBA regular season game by game on your iPhone. You can choose to watch every game or follow five teams you select. Pricing for these options differs, of course. You subscribe from the app using in-app purchases. A subscription also gives you the opportunity to watch classic games and condensed versions of the current season's contests.

Free app, but it requires a subscription

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NBC TV app
image copyright NBCUniversal

Keep up to date with your favorite NBC shows like "The Voice," "Blindspot," and "Saturday Night Live" with the NBC app. It offers video clips, photo galleries, trivia, and more, in addition to episodes. Catch up with entire seasons and check out classic shows.


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Netflix app
image copyright Netflix

Netflix is the biggest name in streaming video, and its app offers a robust library of TV shows and movies available over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. Although the library of shows available for streaming is a fraction of what's available on DVD/Blu-ray, there's always something on. This makes Netflix an excellent way to watch TV on your iPhone. If you've heard about "Stranger Things," "Bright" and "Glow," check them out here.

Free app, but it requires a Netflix subscription

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image copyright Chestnut Soft

NetTV is a less well-known option, but if you want to keep up with live TV, especially international TV, it's a great choice. Instead of striking streaming deals with TV networks and production companies, NetTV scours the web for free and live video feeds from TV channels. Then it aggregates them in its app. The number of channels available fluctuates as networks end or move their web streams. Viewing time may be limited. 


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PBS Video

PBS app
image copyright Public Broadcasting System

If your idea of watching TV on an iPhone involves slightly more refined topics and series, you'll rejoice at the appearance of the PBS Video app. It offers full-length episodes of shows such as "Poldark," "Wolf Hall," "Downton Abbey," "Nova," and other series created by PBS. No login to your local cable company is required, which is a bonus.


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Pluto TV

With the Pluto TV app, you get access to more than 100 live channels and thousands of movies from NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. Exclusive channels include the Pro ​Wrestling Channel and Anime All Day. It's all free. This app even has a "Not on Netflix or Hulu" category that comes in handy when you are looking for something new.


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Showtime Anytime

Showtime Anytime app
image copyright Showtime Networks

Just like with HBO GO, you can catch up on your favorite original Showtime series via your iPhone if you subscribe to the premium pay-TV channel. The app requires that you're a Showtime subscriber with a participating cable company. You'll get access to Showtime series like "Homeland," "Shameless," and "Ray Donovan."

Free app, but it requires Showtime, a cable subscription, and a participating cable company

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Sprint TV
image copyright Sprint

IPhone users with Sprint get access to Sprint TV free as part of their monthly service plan. The free SprintTV app offers channels of live news and sports, and on-demand access to popular shows from CBS, NBC, USA, MTV, and more. Upgrade packages are available at modest cost that adds more channels. Shows are available over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi.

Free app, but it requires a Sprint monthly phone plan

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Spectrum TV

charter TV app
copyright Charter Communications

The Spectrum TV (formerly Charter TV) app is offered by cable provider Spectrum. It is not a network, so it features live TV from more than 80 channels on your iPhone instead of just one network's available shows. You'll get over 250 channels when you're home and access to thousands of titles anywhere you have an internet connection. You can even download movies and TV shows to watch offline.

Free app, but it requires a Spectrum subscription

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starz play app
image copyright Starz

Gain access to Starz programming on your iPhone with the Starz app, including original series like "Power," "Vida," and "Outlander," along with hit Hollywood movies. Subscribers can watch on up to four devices at once, and the app now supports Google's Chromecast. Nonsubscribers may want to check out the app, too, because some original programming is available for free. 

Free app, but it requires Starz and cable subscriptions and a participating cable company

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TBS app
image copyright Turner Broadcasting System

If you like to laugh, you may be a fan of TBS original shows like "Conan" and "Ground Floor." You can watch them and more on your iPhone while you're out and about. As with many other TV network apps, this one requires that you sign in with your cable account username and password. It checks to see if your cable company has a deal with TBS. If it doesn't, you're left with the clips, photos, and social features.

Free app, but it requires a subscription to a participating cable company

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TLC TV app
image copyright TLC

With the TLC GO app, you can watch selected full episodes and video clips of TLC shows like "Say Yes to the Dress," "Cake Boss," and "Long Island Medium." Social sharing features allow you to enjoy the shows with friends.  


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TNT app
image copyright Turner Broadcasting System

If you're a fan of the drama of TNT's original programming —shows like "Claws," "Animal Kingdom," and "Major Crimes" — the TNT app lets you enjoy them on the go on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It's subject to the same restrictions as its sister app from TBS, however. You must have a cable subscription, and you won't get full episodes if your cable company doesn't have a deal with TNT. 

Free app, but it requires a subscription to a participating cable company

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watch tru tv app
image copyright truTV

The TruTV app offers all the shows you'd expect from the network —"Impractical Jokers," "Hardcore Pawn" and "Hack My Life" — and it adds a live stream of the networks' show premieres, and sports feeds. Some content requires a subscription.

Free app, but it requires a subscription with a participating cable company

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USA Network

USA tv app
image copyright USA Network

You can enjoy USA Network original shows like "Suits," "Mr. Robot," and "Queen of the South" when you have the USA Network app. All users can watch some episodes and clips even without signing in to an account, but you unlock a larger library of full episodes when you sign in.  

Free app, but it requires a subscription to a participating cable company

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univision tv app
image copyright Univision

Get the leading Spanish-language TV network in the U.S. on your iPhone with the Univision app. Not only can you watch clips of Univision's news, sports, and entertainment programming, but you'll also have access to print articles, sports scores, horoscopes, and weather forecasts.


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With the Viewster app, you can stream full-length anime, TV shows, and movies from its huge library of content. The app contains extras such as news, snippets, movie trainers, and actor biographies. New shows are uploaded weekly. This app supports several languages and is the leading free online video service in Europe. 


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watchESPN app
image copyright ESPN

Stay in the game whenever and wherever you are with the WatchESPN app. It offers live video from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU, among others, for viewers who subscribe to those channels as part of a cable package. As you may have guessed, this is another app that requires that you log in with your cable company information to get access to the videos. You'll find a ton of original ESPN shows and games when you do. 

Free app, but it requires a subscription with a participating cable company

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Xfinity Stream

image copyright Comcast Interactive Media

Xfinity Stream is the iPhone app from cable giant Comcast. Log in to the app if you're a Comcast customer, and you can watch TV and movies from channels like TNT, TBS, HBO, Showtime, and more. You must have those stations in your cable package, of course. As with other cable company apps, you can also control your home DVR and On-Demand options from your phone. Xfinity TV requires Wi-Fi. 

Free app with a Comcast subscription

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YouTube TV

The YouTube TV app offers cable-free live TV. Stream shows from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, AMC, and others, including kids' channels, local sports, and news networks. The app comes with access to a Cloud DVR without storage space limits. Each household can have up to six YouTube TV accounts so everyone gets their own ​login, DVR, and recommendations. This app has it all, but it comes with a hefty monthly subscription fee. This relatively new option is available in most metropolitan areas as of 2018 with plans to expand.

Free app, but it requires a subscription.