With the rise of on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, many wonder if it‘s still possible to access live television through modern streaming devices. Thankfully, Apple TV makes it easy to stream live content from major cable news, sports, and entertainment channels. You just need the right apps.
While Apple TV doesn‘t provide live TV access out of the box, you can download third-party apps to stream live programming from services like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, and others. These apps give you streaming access to popular live channels like ESPN, CNN, TNT, and local broadcast stations.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting live TV on your Apple TV. From channel lineups to account setup, read on to become a cord-cutting expert.
The Rise of Live TV Streaming
Over the last decade, on-demand streaming has greatly disrupted the home entertainment landscape. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and others allow you to watch your favorite movies and shows whenever you want. But while these services are incredibly popular, many consumers still want access to live television.
That’s where live TV streaming services come in. Companies like Hulu, YouTube TV, and Sling TV offer online access to live channels you’d get through a cable TV subscription. According to eMarketer, over 31% of US households now use a live TV streaming service. This gives them live news, sports and other programming without the need for a cable box.
Live TV Streaming Services
There are a variety of live TV providers available today. Some of the most popular options include:
- Hulu + Live TV – 75+ channels for $69.99/month.
- YouTube TV – 85+ channels for $64.99/month.
- Sling TV – 30-50+ channels for $35-$50/month.
- DirecTV Stream – 65-140+ channels for $69.99-$149.99/month.
- FuboTV – 124+ channels for $69.99/month.
These services offer different channel lineups and features at various price points. Hulu and YouTube TV focus on general entertainment options while FuboTV is geared more towards sports. Most offer major broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in addition to top cable channels.
|Hulu + Live TV||$69.99/month||75+|
Getting Live TV on Apple TV
Now that you know about the major live TV streaming providers, how do you actually access them on an Apple TV? The process is quite simple.
To watch live channels on your Apple TV, you just need to:
- Download the app for your preferred live TV service. This could be Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, etc.
- Create an account & subscribe to a package through that provider.
- Sign into the app on your Apple TV using your account info.
- Select a live channel to start streaming.
The apps have browsing features that mimic a traditional cable guide. You can flip through channels, view live streams, check upcoming programming, and more.
In addition to Apple TV, most live TV streaming apps are also available across other platforms like:
- iPhone and iPad
- Android phones and tablets
- Fire TV
- Gaming consoles like PS4, Xbox One
- Web browsers on Mac and Windows computers
So you can enjoy live TV on lots of different devices, not just Apple TV. Mobile apps make it easy to stream on the go too!
Live TV Channels on Apple TV
Accessing major cable news, sports, and entertainment channels is a big draw of live TV streaming services. Here are some of the popular live channels accessible through various apps on Apple TV:
- News: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Cheddar, Newsy, Local Now
- Sports: ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, NFL Network, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network
- Entertainment: TBS, TNT, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, AMC, FX
- Kids: Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network
- Broadcast Networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo
Most services also provide live local feeds from major broadcast affiliates, giving you local news, weather, and programming based on your location. This includes ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX stations.
Some live TV providers offer premium channel add-ons for an extra monthly fee:
- HBO and Cinemax
This grants you live, streaming access to popular premium movie channels.
Watching Live Sports on Apple TV
Given streaming access to sports networks like ESPN, live TV services make it easy to watch your favorite teams and leagues on Apple TV. Here are some specifics on major sports:
Catch NFL games airing locally on CBS and Fox. Most live TV services also include NFL Network and RedZone for around-the-league coverage. Out-of-market fans can add NFL Sunday Ticket.
Local and national NBA games air on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. Live TV services provide streaming access to these channels.
Local MLB games typically air on regional sports networks (RSNs) carried by most live TV providers. Out-of-market fans can subscribe to MLB.TV.
Most live TV services include the NBC Sports Network and local networks that air NHL matchups. NHL.TV is available as an out-of-market package.
Catch Premier League matches on NBC and Peacock. Other soccer leagues air on channels like ESPN, FS1, beIN Sports carried by most live TV providers.
As you can see, major live TV streaming services provide comprehensive sports access on Apple TV. Just be aware of regional blackout restrictions on local games.
The Apple TV App
In addition to the individual provider apps, the Apple TV app (confusingly similar name) brings live TV channels together in one place. You can access your streaming subscriptions here alongside iTunes content.
The TV app makes it easy to:
- See what‘s on across different live TV apps
- Quickly switch between live channels using Siri
- Follow favorite teams and get notifications when they play
- Resume watching shows from where you left off
- Add programs to Up Next list for easy access
Think of it as a central hub that improves the live TV viewing experience on Apple TV.
Live TV Streaming vs Cable Box
How does getting live TV through streaming compare to the traditional cable box experience? Here are some key differences:
- No contracts – cancel anytime
- Access anywhere – stream on the go
- Lower starting prices
- No rental fees for equipment
- More flexibility – easily change subscriptions
- Need consistent high-speed internet
- Fewer channels than cable
- No legacy set-top box features like guides
- Live local channel availability varies by location
Make sure to compare the pros and cons before cutting the cord!
DVR and Simultaneous Streams
Most live TV streaming services allow you to record programs to a cloud DVR just like a regular cable box. Some even support pausing live TV. Simultaneous stream allowances let you watch on multiple devices at once inside your home.
|Service||Cloud DVR||Simultaneous Streams|
|Hulu + Live TV||50 hours||2|
|Sling TV||10-50 hours (+$5)||1-4|
|DirecTV Stream||Unlimited (+$10)||2|
Navigating Live TV Apps
While layouts vary between providers, live TV streaming apps generally have a familiar interface on Apple TV:
- Guide to scroll through channels and see what‘s playing live.
- My Library for managing DVR recordings, favorites, preferences etc.
- Search to find a specific program or channel.
- Browse on-demand shows and movies.
- Settings to manage parental controls, streams, profiles.
- Account management like billing details.
You can typically pause, rewind, and control playback for live content. Picture-in-picture lets you keep an eye on multiple events. Overall, live TV apps aim to mimic the cable box experience while adding modern features.
Other Ways to Get Live TV
In addition to the major live streaming services, there are a couple other ways to access live channels on Apple TV:
You can connect an over-the-air (OTA) antenna to your Apple TV to access free local broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
News Streaming Services
Options like CNNgo, CBS News, Newsy, Cheddar offer live news streams at lower price points or even free.
Sports Streaming Services
Standalone sports apps like ESPN, NFL Network, MLB.TV provide live game streams for their respective leagues.
Live TV Streaming Tips
Here are some handy tips for the best live streaming TV experience on your Apple TV:
- Use Ethernet if possible for fastest, most reliable connections.
- Minimum internet speeds of at least 25Mbps are recommended.
- Adjust video quality in app settings based on your bandwidth.
- Test streams on different devices to isolate any issues.
- Contact your provider for help with error codes or streaming problems.
- Check for app updates and keep TV OS software updated.
The Bottom Line
While Apple TV doesn‘t offer live TV out of the box, you can easily access today‘s most popular live channels through third-party apps. Services like Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and others provide a cable-like experience without the need for contracts or set-top boxes.
Simply download the app, create an account, pick your channels, and start streaming live news, sports, entertainment and more on your Apple TV. You‘ll have access to an experience similar to a traditional cable subscription but with the flexibility of streaming.