Great Apps for Watching TV on Your IPhone

Options for watching TV on your iPhone

Television fare isn't limited to just your TV anymore. IPhone users can enjoy mobile television, thanks to apps from cable companies, TV networks and online video providers like Hulu and Netflix. These apps run the gamut from free to subscriptions. You may be required to sign up with a certain cable company, but one way or another, you have a lot of options for getting TV to your phone.

Bonus Lifewire App Tip: Are you curious about augmented reality? Try these iPhone augmented reality apps.

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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 requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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

U-verse is a broadband TV and Internet-access offering from AT&T that's open to anyone, not just U-verse customers. This subscription-based 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 More »

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Bloomberg app
image copyright Bloomberg

Keep up to date with the world of business and high finance using the Bloomberg 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. 

Free More »

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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 into your cable account, but the app offers polls, trivia, photos, chat and Bravo's watch-along system, SYNC, in addition to just watching shows. 

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

Cartoon Network app
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 requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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CBS TV app
image copyright CBS

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

Free app  More »

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charter TV app
copyright Charter Communications

Charter TV is offered by cable provider Charter Communications, not a network, so it features live TV from 43 channels on your iPhone instead of just one network's available shows. You'll get over 150 channels when you're home. You can even download movies and TV shows to watch offline.

Free app, but requires a Charter subscription More »

comedy central app
image copyright Comedy Central

Comedy Central's app provides something that almost no other TV app does: it allows you to watch episodes of select shows before they air on TV. You must be logged into your cable account, but then you'll enjoy advance access to shows, as well as a library of older shows.  

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

Cox tv app
image copyright Cox Communications

This is another app from a cable provider, Cox Communications. Cox TV Connect won't let you watch shows away from home or download content, but you'll be able to watch any channel you subscribe to using the app. You can also control your DVR using the app. 

Free app, but requires a Cox subscription More »

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crackle app icon
image copyright Sony

I don't imagine that there are a lot of people who say, "I really want to watch a Sony show tonight!" Most viewers aren't aware of the companies behind their favorite shows and movies. That said, Sony has a huge library of content, and Crackle is the way to access it. Everything offered here has been produced by Sony, from TV shows like Seinfeld, Shark Tank and Wheel of Fortune to movies like The Amazing Spiderman 2 and Robocop. You'll find some original content, too. Best of all, watching won't cost you a thing! 

Free app More »

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crunchyroll app icon
image copyright Crunchyroll

This app is heaven for anime fans. Crunchyroll's subscription service delivers over 25,000 episodes from series like Attack on Titan and Blue Exorcist. Crunchyroll offers a free, seven-day trial, but after that you'll 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 More »

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CW TV app
image copyright The CW

Get on-demand access to the CW's hit shows like Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Reign with this app. Beyond TV, you'll also be able to stream original web-only series from CW Seed. Best of all, you can watch the shows here without a cable subscription.

Free app, no cable subscription More »

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. But a much smaller number of gridiron junkies know that Sunday Ticket is available for iPhone, too, 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 More »

discovery network app
image copyright Discovery

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

Free app More »

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 More »

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HBO GO app
HBO GO app. image copyright Home Box Office

A lot of people subscribe to HBO for its great 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 and you have this app, and if your cable company has a deal with HBO to allow it, you can watch full episodes on your phone. There's no support for AirPlay Mirroring, though.

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

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HGTV watch app
image copyright HGTV

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

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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history channel tv app
image copyright History Channel

The History Channel 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 do have a subscription, however. Use this app to enjoy shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Ancient Aliens. 

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

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Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus. image copyright Hulu

This is probably the number one site that comes to mind when you think about watching TV on the Internet. Hulu has been offering tons of great free TV shows since 2007. Unfortunately, the "free" part doesn't apply to iPhone and iPod users. You're limited to the paid Hulu Plus service on iOS. The upside is that Hulu Plus offers substantially more episodes and full-season runs of more shows than the free Hulu. Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G are all supported.

Free app, but requires a reasonable monthly subscription More »

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lifetime tv app
image copyright Lifetime

Lifetime's 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 into 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, Unreal and Project Runway. 

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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livestation news app
copyright Livestation Limited

News junkies will find a lot to love about the Livestation app. They can watch networks like Al Jazeera, Bloomberg and Russia Today, among others. Some channels require a modest monthly subscription. Other features include live chat, the ability to create and stream your own videos, and access to channels in many other languages.

Free app with in-app purchases More »

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cinemax go app
image copyright Cinemax Go

Cinemax subscribers may want to check out this companion app. It streams Cinemax's original programming, 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 to enjoy content on your HDTV.  

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

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. You can watch live games, classic matchups, and highlights with a subscription and the At Bat app. Subscribe month-to-month or for the entire season to save some money. You can sign up via in-app purchase.

Free app, but requires a subscription  More »

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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've got a cable subscription, you'll get original MTV series like Teen Wolf 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 requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

nba game time app
copyright National Basketball Association

NBA League Pass 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 just follow five teams you select. Pricing for these options is different, of course. You can subscribe from the app using in-app purchases. A subscription also gives you the ability to watch classic games and condensed versions of the current season's contests.

Free app, but requires a subscription More »

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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 this app. It offers video clips, photo galleries, trivia and more in addition to episodes. I've seen a lot of complaints on the App Store about shaky reliability and limited content choices, however, so if you're really jonesing for NBC shows, you might do better at Netflix or Hulu.

Free More »

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Netflix app
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 just 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.

Free app, but requires a Netflix subscription More »

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netTV
netTV. 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. 

Free lite app, or a paid version at a very nominal price  More »

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PBS app
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 app. It offers full-length episodes of Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Masterpiece, Nova and other series created by PBS, but no BBC series -- sorry Downton Abbey fans! No login to your local cable company is required, which is definitely a bonus.

Free More »

Showtime Anytime app
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 major 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 requires Showtime, a cable subscription and a participating cable company More »

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Sprint TV
Sprint TV. image copyright Sprint

IPhone users with Sprint get access to Sprint TV free as part of their monthly service plan. This app offers 15+ channels of live news and sports, and on-demand access to popular shows from networks like 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 requires a Sprint monthly phone plan More »

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starz play app
image copyright Starz

Gain access to Starz programming on your iPhone with this app, including original series like Power 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. Non-subscribers may want to check out the app, too, because some original programming is available for free. 

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

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TBS app
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 requires a subscription to a participating cable company More »

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TLC TV app
image copyright TLC

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

Free app  More »

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T-Mobile TV
T-Mobile TV. image copyright T-Mobile USA Inc.

Now that T-Mobile offers iPhone, users running iOS 5.0 or higher can subscribe to the T-Mobile TV service. Packages of stations are available starting at very reasonable cost. A kids' package includes Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Discovery and more, while the TV en Espanol tier includes Univision, Telemundo and ESPN Deportes. Other packages include Life & Style, The Urban Zone, Crackle Movies and the Prime Pack, a somewhat high-priced plan that includes sports, kids' shows, network programming and more.

Free app but requires a monthly subscription More »

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TNT app
TNT app. image copyright Turner Broadcasting System

If you're a fan of the drama of TNT's original programming – shows like The Last Ship, Animal Kingdom and Major Crimes – this app will let you enjoy them on the go on your iPhone 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 requires a subscription to a participating cable company More »

TWC TV
TWC TV. image copyright Time Warner Cable

TWC TV is from Time Warner Cable. It lets users watch TV on their iPhones – as long as they're Time Warner Cable customers. If you've got Time Warner's Standard Expanded Basic service or higher, you have access to the app, but getting the full set of channels depends on your cable plan. Live TV is available over Wi-Fi only, no 3G or 4G. 

Free app, but requires a Time Warner Cable subscription More »

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USA tv app
image copyright USA Network

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

Free app, but requires a subscription to a participating cable company More »

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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.

Free app More »

fios mobile tv app
image copyright Verizon

This app allows you to bring live TV and on-demand video with you whether your iPhone goes 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 New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. You'll need a FiOS Wi-Fi router to stream TV to your phone in your home. 

Free app, but requires a Verizon FiOS subscription More »

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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 TV in select major markets like Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia. You can use the app to share video clips and discuss episodes on Facebook and Twitter while you watch.

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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 really 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.

Free app, but requires a cable subscription with a participating company More »

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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 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 requires a subscription with a participating cable company More »

watch food network app
image copyright Food Network

Series like Chopped and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives are available through the Watch 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 allows video streaming to an Apple TV.

Free app, but requires a subscription with a participating cable company More »

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watch tru tv app
image copyright truTV

TruTV's app offers all the shows you'd expect from the network —Impractical Jokers, Hardcore Pawn and Hack My Life — but it adds one cool feature that I don't think I've seen with any other app. It allows you to watch a live stream of the networks' east coast and west coast feeds. This may not be a major bonus, but it's an interesting wrinkle in a world of pretty similar TV apps.

Free app, but requires a subscription with a participating cable company More »

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XFINITY TV
XFINITY TV. image copyright Comcast Interactive Media

Last but not least, XFINITY TV is the TV-on-iPhone offering from cable giant Comcast. Log into 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 More »