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If you purchased an Apple TV to join the multitude of cord-cutters, there’s good news. The Apple ecosystem offers a lot of free content. While I recommend subscribing to Hulu Plus and Netflix (they’re exceptional values), one can enjoy a vast selection of free content with Apple TV, and even more with an iPad or iPhone.
The new Apple TV 4 features an App Store with thousands of apps, many of which are content channels. The tvOS App Store features numerous free content apps for Apple TV 4.
Interested in Apple TV 4 and tvOS? Check out these articles:
- Watch Free TV Shows and Movies on Apple TV – A review of several free tvOS content apps for Apple TV 4.
- Apple TV tvOS Apps – Features the top 10 free and paid tvOS apps and a YouTube video with every tvOS app in the App Store.
- Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual – A collection of articles to help you get the most out of Apple TV 4.
- Apple TV Channels by Cost – Apple TV channels for 2nd and 3rd generation models ordered by cost. These prices also apply to the same Apple TV 4 tvOS apps.
Apple TV, as a standalone device, offers a lot of free content. Apple TV currently features the following channels: A&E, ABC, ABC News, ACC Sports, AOL On, Apple Events, Bloomberg, CBS, CBS News, CBS Sports, CNBC, CNNgo, Crackle, Computers, Crunchyroll, Dailymotion, Disney, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, Feeln, Flickr, FOX NOW, Fusion, FX NOW, FYI, HBO GO, HBO NOW, History, Hulu Plus, iCloud Photos, iMovie Theater, iTunes Festival, iTunes Radio, KORTV, Lifetime, M2M, MLB.TV, MLS, Movies, Music, NatGeo TV, NBA, NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra, Netflix, NFL, NHL, 120 Sports, PBS, PBS Kids, Podcasts, Qello, Radio, Red Bull TV, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, Smithsonian Channel, Sky News, Tastemade, TED, Tennis Channel Everywhere, The Beatles, The Scene, Trailers, TV Shows, UFC, USA NOW, Vevo, Vimeo, Weather Channel, Willow, WSJ Live, WWE Network, Yahoo Screen, Young Hollywood and YouTube.
It is important to note that some channels require a paid subscription, while others need to be activated with a cable or satellite provider. Many Apple TV channels offer completely free content, with no strings attached. For a complete list, description and price of every Apple TV channel, read “Apple TV Channels”. If you’re looking for a quick reference of Apple TV channel costs, check out “Apple TV Channels by Cost”.
While this is a lot of free content, there’s a lot more to watch if you beam content from your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or computer using AirPlay. This article focuses on the iOS ecosystem — Apple TV with the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. If you have a Mac or PC and use AirPlay screen mirroring, you have even more free content at your fingertips. All of these content sources work with Apple TV, although you may need an iOS device to access them. Since these apps are so easy to use, I won’t be exploring their features in depth. Information is provided for enabling AirPlay and viewing this content in full-screen mode. Video quality is rated for each content provider.
The video quality assessments assume you will be using AirPlay and Apple TV on a flat screen TV. For most of these options, one can enjoy better picture quality by watching the shows directly on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Like many people, I prefer to watch TV shows and movies on the big screen, while seated comfortably.
Apple TV: iOS app supports AirPlay screen mirroring
Quality: below SD
ABC, along with most major networks (with the exception of FOX), allow access to their content from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. The ABC app allows iOS users to watch full episodes of shows such as Dancing with the Stars, Scandal, Nashville, and more.
As with most major networks, the app is well designed, but there is little attempt to make it AirPlay friendly. In fact, many reviews in the App Store claim that these apps do not support AirPlay. They do offer indirect support for AirPlay through screen mirroring. To enjoy these shows on your Apple TV, simply turn on AirPlay screen mirroring on your iOS device. I recommend doing this before you start the app. Use the zoom feature on your flat screen TV to enable a full screen picture.
The ABC app’s video quality is not great. It is below standard definition. If you are experiencing network issues, the video quality is pretty bad. If you use the zoom feature on your TV to fill the screen, you will experience even worse picture quality. If you require better picture quality, look for the show on Netflix, Hulu Plus, or iTunes.
The ABC app has commercials. As with most online content, the commercial breaks are shorter. Commercial breaks are less than one minute long. This allows you to watch a 30 minute show in less than 25 minutes. (continue…)
- Interested in tvOS apps for the new Apple TV? Check out “Apple TV tvOS Apps”. The article features top 10 free and paid Apple TV apps, in addition to a video displaying every tvOS app in the Apple TV App Store. UPDATED MONTHLY
- “Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual” is now available. Learn more about how to use your new Apple TV 4. It’s also a great resource for those considering purchasing a new Apple TV 4.
- Apple TV 4, the long-awaited update to Apple TV hardware, is coming soon. Read more about Apple’s new television set-top streaming device.
- New article – “Apple TV Games”: 10 games you can play on Apple TV with Dual Screen AirPlay.
- Find out more about every Apple TV Channel. Read “Apple TV Channels”.
- Bloomberg, Crackle, ABC and KORTV have just been added to the Apple TV lineup. While ABC requires a cable subscription for activation, the other channels are free. For more information, check out this article.
- Find out how to get the most out of your Apple TV. Check out 30+ tips that will improve your Apple TV experience.