Apple’s elegant Apple TV is one of the sleekest and more user-friendly streaming boxes out there, and the arrival of the Apple TV 4K has made Apple’s offering one of the most powerful streaming boxes, too. It can do almost anything you’d want a streaming box to do – including streaming live TV. There are a number of ways to get this done, which is why we’re here to explain how to watch live TV on Apple TV.
How to Watch live TV on Apple TV
There are a lot of services that will allow you to watch live TV on Apple TV, but many of them fall into a few basic categories. Rather than repeat ourselves below, let’s chat about the basic types of services now.
The first few services we’ll list here are live TV streaming services. Also called “skinny bundles,” these are pay TV services that offer live network television channels. That makes them look and feel a lot like cable, but you’ll notice the difference when the bill comes: these slimmed-down channel bundles are significantly more affordable than the bulky cable bundles they’re making obsolete.
After a few other services that we’ll talk more about below, we’ll reach the last few services on this list, which are all sports league streaming services. The major American sports leagues (and some more minor ones) have streaming services of their own. These services generally (with a few exceptions) offer only content that is not airing on pay TV near you. In other words, you can expect to get every regular-season game except for ones featuring teams in your market and for those games which are nationally televised. For out-of-market fans, these league streaming services represent a fantastic option for streaming live TV on Apple TV.
Ready to meet the specific services? Here’s how to watch live TV on Apple TV.
DIRECTV NOW is the live TV streaming service from AT&T. Like its competitors, DIRECTV NOW offers a slimmed-down package of network TV stations for far less than cable charges – or, to be more precise, it offers several. You can choose “Live a Little” ($35 per month), or can opt for larger and pricier options. Streaming quality is great, and DIRECTV NOW also has some quality on-demand content. You can try it out for free by clicking the link below.
In a past life, fuboTV was solely focused on soccer fans. That’s not the case anymore: now, fuboTV has channels like AMC and FX in addition to its formidable lineup of sports- and soccer-focused channels. There’s still a sports bias here, but there’s a decent variety of live TV available through the service. Using fuboTV’s main English-language bundle, fubo Premier, to watch live TV on Apple TV will cost you $39.99 per month (or $44.99 per month in select markets). Read our review of fuboTV here, or check it out for yourself by clicking the link below and signing up for the service’s free trial.
Hulu with Live TV comes to us from a brand that’s already trusted in the streaming world: Hulu, which has long been a player in the on-demand streaming market. This live TV effort is a strong one, and Hulu’s $39.99 per month bundle includes a great selection of live network channels. You can read our review of Hulu with Live TV here, or ou can try things out for yourself through the free trial.
Sony’s version of the live TV streaming service is a great way to watch live TV on Apple TV. PlayStation Vue divides its offerings up into tiered bundles, with the smallest and most affordable options (“Access”) clocking in at $39.99 per month. PlayStation Vue enjoys a good reputation among its user base, and it offers a five-day free trial in the hopes of luring you in for good.
Sling TV is a live TV streaming service that lets you build your own skinny bundle. Start with “Sling Orange” ($20 per month) or Sling Blue ($25 per month) – or just grab both ($40 per month) – and then start tacking on “extras,” which cost $5 or more each and include bundles of like-minded channels or, in some cases, standalone premium channels. When you’re all done, you’ll have a cost-effective skinny bundle that asks you to pay only for channels you actually want to watch. It’s a great way to customize your selection and watch live TV on Apple TV.
YouTube’s live TV service is available on Apple TV, but it’s not yet available nationwide (as of this writing), so we didn’t include it in our list of skinny bundle options. But YouTube still makes the cut thanks to its occasional live streams. Some network channels promote live events by making them available on YouTube, and non-exclusive big events (such as Presidential speeches) are commonly streamed live on YouTube channels run by networks like C-SPAN.
CBS All Access is, of course, an app from CBS. It offers on-demand content but also allows for live TV viewing in some markets, which is how it ended up on this list of ways to watch live TV on Apple TV. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the markets that allows for live TV viewing, CBS All Access will give you a stream of your local CBS station (including local news and some, but not all, live sporting events). CBS All Access costs $5.99 per month, but you can try it out for free by taking advantage of its free trial.
Baseball fans are lucky: MLB.TV is the best of the league streaming services. It’s a smooth-streaming, easy-to-use app on Apple TV, and it includes perks like being able to overlay radio broadcast audio on live TV streams. The usual blackout rules apply here, unfortunately: no local team broadcasts and no nationally televised games. For now, at least, that’s just how league streaming services work.
MLS Live is the league streaming service from Major League Soccer, North America’s top-tier soccer league. It lags behind its major-league competition in some respects, but it does offer blackout-free coverage of some teams in the league, which is a wonderful step forward for services like this.
NBA League Pass is the league streaming service from the National Basketball Association. The usual blackout rules apply – no local games and no nationally televised ones, either – which can be a bit rough given the NBA’s strong presence on national TV. Still, this is a great way to watch live TV on Apple TV if you’re an NBA super-fan.
NHL.TV is a league streaming service. The National Hockey League’s offering is pretty typical: as always, you get every live regular-season game except for the ones that are airing on TV in your region. For super-fans of the league at large and for fans who happen to live outside of their favorite team’s market, this is a great way to watch live TV on Apple TV.
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