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Apple’s iOS is one of the most popular operating systems on the planet. It’s the operating system that makes iPhones and iPads so pleasant to use, and it boasts a huge library of apps for those devices. With all those apps, iOS can do much more than simply place a phone call or send an iMessage. It’s also a streaming platform, with support for streaming video services of all types — including ones that will allow you to watch live TV on iPhones and iPads.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream live TV on iPhone and iPad:

  Price Channels Free Trial  
$69.99 – $139.99 65+ None

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$25 60+ 7 days

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$5.99 – $85.96 68 – 88 7 or 30 days

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$64.99 – $33.00 220+ 7 days

See Offer

$35 – $50 30+ – 130+ 3 days

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$6.99 – $13.99 N/A None

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$4.99 – $99.99 N/A 7 days

See Offer

How to Watch Live TV on iPhone and iPad Online Without Cable

There are many apps that will let you watch live TV on iPhones and iPads, but we can lump them into a few basic categories. The most important category for our purposes is live TV streaming services, or “skinny bundles.”

A skinny bundle is a live multichannel TV service. The big difference between skinny bundles and traditional cable is skinny bundles are delivered via the internet — or “over the top,” in industry slang. They also tend to sport slimmer channel packages than their old-school counterparts (hence “skinny bundle”), and they can be viewed anywhere and on all sorts of devices — including, of course, iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.

Another category of apps that allows you to watch live TV on iPhones and iPads is league sports streaming services. With these platforms, die-hard fans can get more live sports from their favorite leagues. Your favorite local sports team may already have a deal with a cable provider, though, which may mean you can’t watch that team’s games on a league sports streaming service. These league packages typically charge an annual fee for livestreams of out-of-market regular-season games, which means no local games and no nationally broadcast games.

Now let’s look at the specific services that will give you the power to watch live TV on iPhones and iPads.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad for free with DIRECTV Stream

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Like its skinny-bundle competition, DIRECTV Stream offers live network TV stations streaming over the internet. It has loads of channels, so you can pick from a wide variety of live TV across four packages. If you want to learn more, then check out our DIRECTV Stream review.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad for free with Philo

Free Trial

Philo is one of the most affordable ways to watch live TV on iPhones and iPads. Its prices are way lower than those of its competitors. Why is it so much cheaper? Well, Philo has cut out two costly things that other skinny bundles usually include: local channels and sports channels. If you don’t care about those omissions, Philo is a good choice for watching live TV on iOS.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad for free with Hulu

Free Trial

Hulu + Live TV is, of course, Hulu’s take on the skinny bundle. The Hulu + Live TV channel selection features lots of great networks, including local channels (in select markets) and sports channels. You can test out Hulu for free by taking advantage of the service’s free trial. For more on Hulu, check out our full Hulu + Live TV review.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad for free with fuboTV

Free Trial

fuboTV started as a soccer-only streaming service, but it has since reinvented itself as a skinny bundle with a wide range of channels to accommodate a wide range of interests. It works like a dream on iOS, which makes it a great option for watching live TV on iPhones and iPads. fuboTV also offers a weeklong free trial. You can find out more about the service in our fuboTV review.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad with Sling TV

Try It

Sling TV puts an emphasis on customization. It offers subscribers a choice of two base packages. Pick either (or both), and then add your choice of “extras” — small bundles grouped by genre. You can add as many or as few extras as you like.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad with ESPN+

Try It

ESPN+ is all about sports. Disney's sports streaming service includes both on-demand content and live events, so it fits right in on our list of ways to watch live TV on iOS devices.

Stream live TV on iPhone and iPad with Paramount Plus

See Offer

Paramount Plus is the new streaming service in town, and you can watch it on your iPhone and iPad. You’ll find live soccer games, live news broadcasts, and a ton more. The service was previously known as CBS All Access, but it rebranded in early 2021. Our Paramount Plus review will tell you what we think of the service.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is Google’s take on a skinny bundle, and it’s a pretty impressive effort. You’ll get a great selection of live TV networks that can be streamed on iPhones and iPads, as well as on many other devices. YouTube TV offers a free trial, so you can watch live TV on your iPhone for free for one week.

MLB.TV

MLB.TV pioneered livestreaming and the league streaming package concept, and it remains the best of the bunch. Baseball fans are spoiled by MLB.TV, which offers smooth streaming of every out-of-market regular-season game on all sorts of devices, including, of course, iPhones and iPads.

NBA League Pass

The NBA’s version of a league streaming service is a solid option. The NBA’s huge presence on cable TV makes blackouts a bit more common, but the quality of the service itself is solid and ever-improving. If you’re an NBA fan looking for legal livestreams, then this is simply the only game in town.

NHL.TV

NHL.TV is the NHL’s version of a league streaming service, and it works pretty much the same way as its peers. You’ll get regular-season action that isn’t already being broadcast in your area for a pretty reasonable price. NHL.TV is better now than it was a few years ago, so it’s worth checking out.

Plex

Plex is one of two options for watching over-the-air TV on your iOS device. Plex is a media server application that can run on a range of devices. With an antenna and a server-capable device that has a TV tuner, you can add live TV to your streaming options. You can do it with a computer, a USB PC TV tuner, and the Plex server app. With all that in place, download the Plex app to your iPhone or iPad and start streaming from your server! Note that you’ll need Plex’s premium subscription service, Plex Pass, to get this feature.

Pluto TV

It's not chock-full of recognizable channels, but Pluto TV is a great way to get a live TV experience on a streaming device. Download the Pluto TV app for your iPhone or iPad, and you can watch live TV on iOS — including Pluto TV’s original channels and even some familiar news stations. ESPN isn’t on board, but Pluto TV has some nice content, and it allows you to channel surf on your iOS device.

Tablo TV

Tablo is an over-the-air (OTA) DVR, which means it’s a hardware device you plug your OTA antenna into to record or watch live OTA TV. Tablo TV is the app you use to set up your device, schedule recordings, and stream live TV, and it’s available for iOS. You’ll need an antenna and a Tablo, of course, but once you have everything set up, you should find that Tablo TV is a great way to watch live TV on iOS devices.

One thought on “How to Watch Live TV on iPhone and iPad

  1. Fran says:

    Hello Stephen, and thanks for the informative article. Next time please let your readers know which of these is a paid subscription and the amt of the monthly fee – i.e. CBS All Access is $4.99/month on Roku. I believe Sling is $20.

    Thanks!

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