How to Watch TV on Your iPhone or Android Device

Looking to catch up on the latest news, sports, and entertainment on your iPhone? What better way than to watch TV on your iPhone! When I say watch TV, I mean either watching prerecorded shows or watching live TV.

There are a whole slew of ways you can get content on your iPhone these days and I’ll try to break it down into something that makes sense to most people. For starters, let’s talk about live TV because that’s probably what most people were searching for before they came to this article.

Watch Live TV

When it comes to live TV, there are the local channels and then the cable channels. Let’s start with the local channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. The only way you can currently watch local channels live on your iPhone is if you have a cable subscription or have an OTA (Over the Air) antenna with a third-party streaming device.

The only exception to this rule is CBS because they offer a streaming service called CBS All Access for $5.99 a month that lets you watch CBS live and a bunch of other CBS content on demand.

cbs all access

Let’s talk about the first way to watch live local channels: over the air. First, you have to figure out if you get any local channels in HD over the air. You can find local OTA channels here. If you have a strong signal for the local channels you are interested in, then you’re in luck.

It’s easy to buy an OTA antenna and connect it to your HDTV at home, but to stream those OTA channels to your phone requires a bit more hardware. There are a couple of solutions out there like Simple.TV, Tablo, and HDHomeRun. None of these are very cheap, but they will get the job done. I’ve personally owned the first generation Simple.TV and it worked surprisingly well.

simple tv

For those of you with a cable subscription, things are a bit easier. Firstly, there are a lot of apps that support logging in or authenticating with your cable subscription login. For example, you can download the CNN app and login with your cable provider info and watch CNN live.

The same thing goes for HBO Go, WatchESPN, Comedy Central and many more. If you are already getting HBO with your cable company, then you can log into their app using your cable provider account and watch everything at no extra charge.

You can also download the app from your cable provider and watch live TV. You may not be able to watch every channel on your phone that you have with your cable subscription, but it should be a decent selection. Here are the apps for some popular cable companies:

Verizon FIOS
Cox Communications
Time Warner
DISH Network
Direct TV

With a cable subscription, you can watch some live local channels and cable channels on your mobile device without any issue. Either download the app from your cable company or use the login information on any mobile app that supports authenticating using a cable subscription.

As mentioned before, the cable company apps may not support all channels for live steaming. If you want to be able to stream every channel you have to your mobile device anywhere in the world, then your best option is a SlingBox. You connect this device to your cable box and it can live stream any channel to your device anywhere in the world.

slingbox m2

Watch Regular TV

Beyond live TV, there is prerecorded content. Live TV is great, but it won’t satisfy your binge watching crave. In this category, you have apps that have some free content and you have apps that charge a subscription fee for access.

You already know most of the big names like Netflix, Hulu, etc, but I’ll mention them here anyway just to be complete. First, let’s talk about some of the good free options.

Comedy Central – I really like this app because it lets me watch the latest episodes of The Daily Show and South Park for free on my phone. It also has other shows for free too.

Watch ABC – This app requires a cable subscription login for most shows, but it also has a mix of older and newer episodes that you can watch for free. It also has live TV, but only for a few select markets.

Tubi TV – This app has a good selection of movies and TV shows that you won’t find on YouTube or Netflix or Amazon. It’s mostly older stuff, but still good quality. You do have to sit through some ads in order to watch for free though.

NBC Watch Now – Probably the best app out of all the big TV networks. It doesn’t crash and there is a lot of free content you can stream without logging in. In select markets, you can also watch live TV in 45 minute intervals.

Crackle – This one is from Sony, so it has some movies that you’ve actually heard of. Again, you’ll have to watch some ads, but it’s not very annoying.

After this, you have your standard subscription services that we all know: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Netflix starts off at $7.99 a month and goes up to $11.99. Hulu is $7.99 with commercials and $11.99 without commercials. Amazon requires you are signed up with Prime, which costs $99 a year.

streaming services

Lastly, there are the premium content subscriptions. These are basically HBO and Showtime. Luckily, both of them have streaming options that are not linked to any cable subscription.

HBO Now – For $14.99 a month, you get all of the content from HBO on any device. It’s great if you love HBO, especially the movies.

Showtime – The pricing varies depending on how you get access to Showtime. It’s generally cheaper to add it on as an extra package if you already have Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus or PlayStation Vue.

The only thing I haven’t mentioned up till now is simply buying the TV shows and movies you want from iTunes, the Google Play Store, Amazon, CinemaNow, or Vudu. This is actually a good option too if you don’t end up watching a lot of stuff on the subscription services. Instead, if you know exactly what you want to watch, just buy it one time and save money.

Hopefully, this article gives you a good idea of the different ways you can enjoy TV shows and movies on your smartphone! If you have a lot of money to spare, you can pretty much watch anything on TV on your phone. Enjoy!