Apps like Netflix are awesome for watching shows, movies, and app-specific series like Orange is the New Black (c’mon, you know you watch it—it’s a great show!) through your Apple TV. But what if you want to watch live TV, can you even do that on Apple TV? The short answer is yes, but only if you have an Apple TV that’s 4th generation or later. (Keep that in mind when following along with this article—if your Apple TV isn’t 4th generation or later, this won’t work.) You can also spend a little extra money on paid subscription apps or by already having a cable TV provider and logging into the network’s app to access the shows.
Also see our article How To Use Apple TV Outside the US
We’re going to go over the ways we’ve discovered to watch live TV on your Apple TV, as well as a couple of alternatives that are almost as good. The last one is our favorite choice, so be sure to read through to the end!
Live TV Apps
You can get paid subscription apps like Showtime, HBO, and Starz, all of which typically offer a free trial period. This allows you to determine whether you like the app and its offerings. Then, you can make the decision later about paying a monthly fee for the app once your trial period expires.
TV Show Apps (that let you watch the day after an episode has aired)
The NBC TV app lets you watch the latest TV episodes the day after they’ve aired live on the NBC network. So, if you’ve got an addiction to watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit or Chicago PD like I do, you’ll be all set. Of course, this means you can’t watch the show live as it’s broadcast, but the day after is good enough for many of us.
The FOX NOW app works on the same premise as the NBC app. You can watch TV episodes the day after they’ve aired on the FOX network. When you’ve already got a cable subscription, you can log in and watch unlimited episodes of FOX shows. If you don’t have a subscription through a TV provider, you can watch the latest five episodes.
Like we’ve said, most of these TV broadcasting apps either require a subscription to a cable TV provider, let you watch a limited number of episodes without logging in, or you’ll need to sign up for their subscription service once your trial period has ended.
Watch Live TV Anytime
Now, if you want the ability to watch live TV on your Apple TV all the time anytime, you’ll need to make a larger investment. This is on top of the money you’ve already spent to purchase the Apple TV system, so it’s up to you. Here’s what you’ll need:
- The Apple TV 4th Generation
- The HDHomeRun TV tuner by Silicon Dust. (They have three different models.)
- An Ethernet cable to connect to your Internet provider’s router.
- An over-the-air antenna with a coaxial cable or a digital cable card.
- The Channels app which costs $24.99 at the time of writing this article.
Your Apple TV should be connected directly to the television where you’ll be using it. The HDHomeRun TV tuner needs to be connected to your Internet provider’s router via the Ethernet cable. The HDHomeRun tuner will be powered by an AC outlet where the device and router establish a location in your home.
You’ll download the Channels app from the Apple App Store on the Apple TV and start watching live TV. The Channels app collects the channel information retrieved from the HDHomeRun TV tuner connected to your TV antenna through the coaxial cable.
In the long run, this could be a better and more cost-efficient solution to watching live TV on your Apple TV; however, the up-front investment is more. In my opinion, though, the benefits you’ll continue to receive down the line will outweigh the initial cost tenfold.