Apple TV Channels by Cost

Apple TV Channels by Cost

published by Chand Bellur
September 25, 2015 at 10:44 p.m.

UPDATED: December 21, 2020

  • Apple TV is both a device and an app, with Apple TV+ designating a video subscription service.
  • Second and Third generation Apple TV’s don’t support the App Store but instead come pre-installed with “channels”.
  • Apple TV channels can be free, require a cable subscription for activation, or require a monthly fee.
  • Owners of second and third-generation Apple TV models can beam almost any content to their TV from their iPhone or iPad using AirPlay.


By popular demand, this article presents Apple TV channels ordered by cost.

NOTE: This article covers Apple TV channels for the 2nd and 3rd generation models. The new Apple TV 4 features an App Store with thousands of apps, many of which are content channels.Interested in Apple TV 4 and tvOS? Check out these articles:

Appledystopia Heard You!

I listen to my readers. They often put forth constructive criticism and good advice. The “Apple TV Channels” article offers a more verbose narrative describing each channel. It’s a great read if you want details on each Apple TV channel. Unfortunately, this presentation made it difficult for readers to get a quick glance of Apple TV channel costs.

Some readers contend that most Apple TV channels require a TV provider (cable, satellite, U-verse). This is actually a misconception. Several channels require a TV provider, but most do not. A lot of the TV provider-bound or subscription channels also offer some free content.

As a cord-cutter, I considered how I could elucidate this discrepancy. Readers were getting lost in the narrative and their heuristic tally of channel costs was seemingly inaccurate. Offering this data in a tabular format should make it clear — there’s a lot of free content on Apple TV. The channels are ordered by increasing cost, with free channels first and subscription channels last. Let’s take a look at what the cost categories mean.

Free Apple TV Channels

A free Apple TV channel is just that — gratis. There are no subscription charges. You will not need to activate the channel with a TV provider for access. I watch these free channels all the time, and many of them are excellent. PBS, for example, is a treasure trove of excellent content. I often stay informed with ABC News, Sky News or other free news channels. Both Sky News and CBS News offer 24/7 live, streaming news for free. PBS does require free activation on their website. This provides access to your local PBS affiliate’s content.

Limited Free Content; Requires TV Provider

Some Apple TV channels offer free content, but require activation with a TV provider for full access. These channels typically offer short clips, sports scores and stats. Some offer full episodes of TV shows. Cord-cutters can enjoy some free content on these channels.

Limited Free Content; Requires TV Provider; Extra Content with Subscription

Tennis Channel Everywhere offers three tiers of access. Viewers can enjoy some free content. A TV provider subscription offers more content. A Tennis Channel Plus subscription enables access to even more content. Tennis Channel Everywhere is the only Apple TV Channel in this cost category.

Limited Free Content; Subscription

A subscription service charges a monthly or annual fee for access. Viewers do not need a TV provider to access these channels. They can subscribe to the channel directly. Some of these channels offer free content without a subscription. This is most common with sports channels, which tend to offer clips, highlights and stats for free.

Limited Free Content; iTunes Purchase

iTunes TV shows generally require a purchase. If you browse the iTunes store on your iOS device or computer, you can find free TV episodes. Accessing these free episodes on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or computer will present them as “purchases” on your Apple TV. From there, they can be viewed directly on Apple TV. You can also beam them from your device to Apple TV using AirPlay.

Limited Free Content; Subscription; Pay-Per-View

UFC offers some free content, but requires a subscription for more complete access. Pay-per-view events are not covered by the subscription costs. These pricing tiers are specific to the UFC channel.

Requires TV Provider

Only a few Apple TV channels will stonewall viewers who don’t have a TV provider. These channels offer absolutely no free content. When you access the channel, you are instructed to activate with your TV provider.

iTunes Rental or Purchase

iTunes Movies are available for rent or purchase directly on Apple TV. You can also purchase these on any device that offers the iTunes store and play them on your Apple TV using the same Apple ID.

iTunes Purchase

Apart from the free (and controversial) U2 album, iTunes music must be purchased. Any iTunes song or album you have purchased will be presented on the Music channel in Apple TV.


Subscription channels require a monthly or annual fee for access. Netflix is the most popular example of an Apple TV subscription channel.

Apple TV Channels by Cost

The following table presents Apple TV channels ordered by cost. You can click on any channel to view more information.

Channel Cost
ABC News free
ACC Sports free
AOL On free
Apple Events free
Bloomberg free
CBS News free
CBS Sports free
Crackle free
Computers free
Dailymotion free
Flickr free
Fusion free
iCloud Photos free
iMovie Theater free
iTunes Festival free
iTunes Radio free
M2M free
120 Sports free
PBS free
PBS Kids free
Podcasts free
Radio free
Red Bull TV free
Smithsonian Channel free
Sky News free
Tastemade free
TED free
The Beatles free
The Scene free
Trailers free
Vevo free
Vimeo free
Weather Channel free
WSJ Live free
Yahoo Screen free
Young Hollywood free
YouTube free
A&E limited free content; requires TV provider
CNBC limited free content; requires TV provider
CNNgo limited free content; requires TV provider
Crunchyroll limited free content; requires TV provider
ESPN limited free content; requires TV provider
FOX NOW limited free content; requires TV provider
FX NOW limited free content; requires TV provider
FYI limited free content; requires TV provider
HBO GO limited free content; requires TV provider
History limited free content; requires TV provider
Lifetime limited free content; requires TV provider
NatGeo TV limited free content; requires TV provider
NBC limited free content; requires TV provider
NBC Sports Live Extra limited free content; requires TV provider
Showtime Anytime limited free content; requires TV provider
USA NOW limited free content; requires TV provider
Tennis Channel Everywhere limited free content; requires TV provider; extra content with subscription
CBS limited free content; subscription
MLB.TV limited free content; subscription
MLS limited free content; subscription
NBA limited free content; subscription
NFL limited free content; subscription
NHL limited free content; subscription
TV Shows limited free content; iTunes purchase
UFC limited free content; subscription; pay-per-view
ABC requires TV provider
Disney requires TV provider
Disney Junior requires TV provider
Disney XD requires TV provider
Movies iTunes rental or purchase
Music iTunes purchase
Feeln subscription
HBO NOW subscription
Hulu subscription
KORTV subscription
Netflix subscription
Qello subscription
Showtime subscription
Willow subscription
WWE Network subscription


      1. Reading your explanation of CBS sports…I do not agree with it being listed as free…if you want to call a channel free… it should not require any additional fees…IMHO

    1. I don’t see the purpose of Apple TV, at least paying for it. Maybe I just don’t know how to use it. Tying to watch a movie it asks me to pay. is it the same thing as buying the box? If so why they still selling the box when it’s free on most Tv’s? I would love to know where to go to fully understand the use. of it.

      1. You’re smarter than me. It took me about six years to reach the same conclusion. Yes, SmartTV’s have everything you need. Maybe one or two games are amazing on Apple TV, but they’re just a subset of iPhone games.

        There is no good reason to purchase an Apple TV. I believe Apple has been towing the line with the device, because it was Steve Jobs’ baby. It’s an overpriced streaming device. It’s not as good of a game console as an Xbox or PlayStation. It’s a jack of all trades, master of none…

        Most Windows PCs have HDMI display ports. You can hook up a PC to a flat screen and access just about everything. It doesn’t need to be ordained by the App Store, either.

        With Apple TV, the 30% App Store tax on developers is simply pushed onto consumers. If you subscribe to most streaming services outside of the Apple ecosystem (just go to their website on a PC), you usually pay less.

        Apple TV is for die hard Apple fans. I was that for some time. Then they ripped me off on two Macs. Even before that, Apple’s monopolistic practices would likely turn Ayn Rand into a commie. It’s the first major consumer computing platform where you can only purchase apps from the “company store”. If you buy an Apple TV, you’ll be locked in to Apple’s monopolistic ecosystem. Want to play Fortnite, the most popular game in the world? You can’t do that on an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad or most Apple devices.

  1. Thanks so much for the info. I just got Apple TV and havent been finding a lot that is free. The Netflix does not have even half of what the real Netflix website has and I dont understand that. I also cannot access my Netflix list of movies I wanted to watch. A printable table/chart of this info would be awesome! Then I could use it to do comparison with other services more easily since some people say Apple TV has the least content.

    1. I haven’t subscribed to Netflix in some time, but it should offer every streaming program on Apple TV. I’ll look into this. I know that a lot of their DVD and Blu-Ray rentals are not available for streaming, due to licensing costs. Can you give me an example of a program that can stream on their website but not on Apple TV?

      Keep in mind, you can always beam content to your Apple TV using AirPlay screen mirroring. It’s a great way to beam web-based content onto Apple TV. Newer Macs have native support for this, but if you have an older Mac or Windows machine, check out AirParrot 2.

  2. Curious if there is more TV/Movie content with the new Apple TV vs the previous one. Or, are the apps simply games, etc.?

    1. I have read that some of the channels on the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV are not available on the new model yet. It may take some time for developers to make a tvOS app. They didn’t get a lot of time to do this. In time, I expect the new Apple TV to have more content than the 2nd and 3rd generation models. Of course, with AirPlay, you can get pretty much anything on the older Apple TVs. I use it to beam Spotify to my Apple TV, which is connected to my stereo.

    1. TheBlaze is not a built-in channel on the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs. That’s what I am covering here. There are far too many apps on the 4th gen model to compile such a list. I think a lot of people will still buy a 3rd gen Apple TV. This is also a handy reference for those who already own one.

      I think one can beam TheBlaze on to Apple TV using their iOS app. Again, that’s beyond the scope of this article.

    1. It all depends on the developers. They need to create tvOS apps and submit them to the App Store. You can beam just about anything onto Apple TV using AirPlay. AirPlay clients are native to iOS and newer Macs, but third-party apps bring AirPlay support to Windows, ChromeOS and many other operating systems. Older Macs can also use software to enable AirPlay. AirParrot is one of the most popular AirPlay clients, and I like it a lot. I have an older Mac and I use AirParrot to beam video to my Apple TV.

  3. As with all Apple products it is difficult to get product information. I have been looking and have been looking and have only found limited information on Apple TV

    1. I am working on an unofficial manual for Apple TV. I agree. There’s not a lot of good information on Apple TV. The booklets that come with the device don’t scratch the surface. They want people to go into the Apple Store, hoping they will walk out with another purchase.

  4. I am considering to “unplug” what does it mean when it Requires TV Provider?
    Basic cable? Can you please explain exactly how to connect to TV provider using Apple TV. Thank You

    1. It means that you need a cable, satellite or telecom (AT&T U-verse) subscription in order to activate the channel. If you go to the Apple TV settings screen on any of these channels, they provide activation instructions for each TV provider. A lot of cable, satellite and telecom companies are supported, but not all.

      Basically, you go to your cable company’s website (Apple TV will display specific instructions, based on your TV provider) and create an account. Then you can activate the channel.

      If you are cutting the cord, “unplugging”, or canceling cable, you won’t be able to gain full access to these channels. Don’t worry. I cancelled cable years ago. You can get everything on Apple TV, even without cable. You just have to look at it differently. Instead of going to say, NBC to watch a particular show, you watch it on Hulu or iTunes. Just think in terms of shows and not networks.

      Hulu has a lot of TV shows. Anything else can be purchased a la carte on iTunes. Every sport, except NFL, seems to have some app, although they typically require a subscription. Personally, I just subscribe to HBO NOW and buy a few shows on iTunes. I wasn’t even using Netflix or Hulu that much to justify paying for them. I may subscribe to these if I get bored of HBO. I can watch the newest episode of, say, The Daily Show for free using the Comedy Central tvOS app on the new Apple TV. Of course, they lock the older episodes, which can only be accessed by activating the app with a TV provider. No problem. I just make sure to watch the new episode as soon as possible. Most Comedy Central shows are available on Hulu. I can watch Downton Abbey and Sherlock for free on the PBS app.

      There’s nothing to lose. If you cancel cable and go with Apple TV, and find it doesn’t fulfill your needs, your cable company will likely give you an even better deal to sign up again. If not, a competitor will. TV providers are frightened and bending over backwards to keep customers.

      Personally, I dislike cable. I didn’t like the cable boxes. The UI is horrible. Their on demand offerings were incomplete. Sifting through hundreds of channels of garbage (food and reality shows) was tiresome. I have never regretted cutting the cord and going with Apple TV!

      1. If you are trying to cut the cord from Cable or Say You Tube TV or other provider then why would you have Apple TV when a lot of the stuff to watch you need a provider.

    1. If you don’t have any Apple products or content, that may be the case. For someone who has an iPhone or other Apple products, Apple TV is probably a better option. I can’t play my iTunes music, TV shows or movies on Amazon Fire TV. So for me, and millions of others, it’s not as good. It’s actually possible to play Amazon content on Apple TV. In fact, Amazon is working on a tvOS app to natively support Amazon content on Apple TV. For now, it can be done using AirPlay. It’s also possible for me to beam content or mirror the screen of my iPhone, iPad, Mac or even Windows PC onto my Apple TV using AirPlay. That opens up a whole new world of content.

  5. if it requires a provider, does that mean I have to maintain the same package or can I get a smaller package use my account to get access to the channels

    1. It depends. If you’re talking about HBO GO, you need an HBO subscription from your TV provider. For the most part, a basic TV provider subscription can activate basic cable channels.

  6. For channels that are ‘free with a tv provide,’ do you need to have those channels with your tv provider? For example – Do I need to have ESPN on my cable provider in order to have it on Apple TV, or can I just get the most basic cable package? I know for movie channels (like HBO GO) I need to have a subscription for that.

    1. I did some research, and you need ESPN as part of the package in order to activate it on Apple TV.

      Hang in there. This whole industry is transforming, with networks like HBO and Showtime now offering streaming subscriptions without the need for cable. It’s only a matter of time before EPSN and others offer their content independent of TV providers. There is a rumor that Apple will be launching a paid channel lineup of the most popular cable channels, directly on Apple TV. The negotiations are ongoing. It’s a bit frustrating that the industry is lagging so far behind the technology, but they’re in collusion with the cable, satellite and telco industry. I expect the price of Internet service to increase as this transition progresses.

    1. Apple TV doesn’t offer FOX News as a built-in channel. There isn’t a FOX News tvOS app for the new Apple TV either. At best, you can download their iOS app from the App Store and it might support AirPlay. If not, AirPlay screen mirroring will probably work, unless they have disabled it. It happens. The iOS app requires a TV provider subscription.

      If you have a computer, there is a workaround that doesn’t require a TV provider subscription. Simply go to the FOX News Video website and click on Watch Live. Next, tap the full screen button on the video player. You can mirror your computer’s screen onto Apple TV using AirPlay (newer Macs) or AirParrot (older Macs, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS). AirParrot 2 costs $14.99, but it is well worth the price.

    2. Come one we all know they don’t want you watching news with facts! The other ones are free cause it’s all about the brainwashing game 🙂

      1. The best and most trusted news is free. The PBS NewsHour is available for free every day on YouTube. NPR is free too. Your tax dollars pay for it, and it’s not all about Donald 25/7. (I think they added an extra hour in the day for more DJT coverage.) Beyond my own opinion, studies have shown these are the sources people trust the most. They actually cover things in the world, like genocide in Yemen — also funded by your tax dollars. Apparently, it’s not important enough for CNN, FOX, MSNBC or other outlets.

        When CNN has James Earl Jones’ authoritative voice telling you that they’re the most trusted news network, it’s a bald face lie. It’s like the Milgram experiment, where an authoritative figure can convince people to accept any truth. No research has found CNN to be a highly trusted news source. It’s just another side of the same coin — a mirror image of FOX. Just the facts, please. I don’t need anyone to “unpack” it for me.

    1. I have seen other people complaining about this online, but I don’t see it. I just watched PBS last night on my new, fourth generation Apple TV. I haven’t donated, but I have all of the content I would expect. I have watched all of Downton Abbey, Sherlock and other programs. I don’t see what’s missing. Can you give me an example?

      The PBS channel has always only offered a few of the newest episodes. It’s about licensing issues. They don’t have every episode of Downton Abbey. After a few weeks, they remove the episodes. I still find it to be tremendously useful for watching PBS shows. I just need to make sure not to wait too long.

  7. Looking for MeTV. Our local cable provider cuts in and out with the programing for that network. Bought an Apple device but can’t find it listed.

    1. I checked out MeTV, and it looks like it is only available on cable and over the air. They don’t seem to have an app or even on-demand content on their website. You may be able to watch some of these shows with other providers. Netflix and Hulu have some of these older shows. I know Netflix has Star Trek and MASH.

      If MeTV offered an app or on-demand video on a website, you could use AirPlay to beam it to Apple TV. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    1. Good point. The content does vary based on locale. Some services are only available in the U.S. I checked out the Apple TV website for the Mexican market, but they don’t list which content providers are available. I see Netflix and a few others, but no Hulu.

      There is a workaround. If you subscribe to a VPN service, your Internet connection can use a U.S. IP address. Some content providers are cracking down on this practice, by disallowing IPs originating from VPN services. It seems that a lot of people are having success using VPN overseas.

    1. Unfortunately, the new, fourth generation Apple TV does not support 4K resolution. The hardware can theoretically support 4K, however, I am not sure they will support this feature in an upcoming update. If 4K is important to you, check out Roku 4 or Amazon Fire TV. They already support 4K.

  8. It’s hard to believe that still, in 2016, Fox Sports Go is STILL not on Apple TV… I watch the NBC Sports and Watch ESPN ALL the time on it! It’s such a great way to stream sports in HD on your flat-screen without having to use ANOTHER device like your Iphone or Ipad.
    Get with the program FOX… Tell whatever office donkeys you have in the cubicles to stop LOL’ing at cat playing the piano e-mails… Just for like one afternoon.

    1. I agree. It is so frustrating that the technology has been here for over a decade, yet these networks seem to think it is the mid 90s. I think it is the deal making between cable providers and the networks. Indeed, Comcast owns NBC/Universal. They have put their toe in the water, but they still require cable activation for most content. My hunch is that FOX has some deals with the cable providers to stay away from streaming. Either that, or their management hasn’t figured out how to make money from streaming technologies. (Hint: advertising!)

      I cancelled cable a long time ago. I hated it. It was nothing but hassles and the cable box UI was terrible. On demand would stop working for several days. I couldn’t believe I was paying so much for such lousy service.

      One possible workaround — try using AirPlay with the app. Also, a lot of FOX content can be played on a computer-based web browser. If you get an app like AirParrot or have a newer Mac, you can use AirPlay to beam content to your Apple TV. Anything on your PC or Mac can be beamed onto Apple TV.

  9. Hello, I want to be a cord cutter desperately but my favorite channels like the Cooking Channel, FoodNetwork, Galavision and the new Freedom Channel aren’t anywhere on your lists_ not even the subscription or cable activations. 🙁 Any news about these?

  10. A subscription to CBS is a whole lot cheaper than a cable package necessary to get any of the “requires TV provider” options.

    Why do you present those as ‘cheaper’??

  11. So with ESPN, I won’t be able to watch games or the shows without a cable provider? Or would I be able to pay a subscription fee like say Netflix and Hulu to get all the content

    1. Right, you need a TV provider subscription in order to watch ESPN. It kind of defeats the purpose of using an Apple TV. It’s a business decision. Networks like ESPN are still colluding with TV providers.

      Apple TV does have a variety of sports channels that don’t require a cable subscription. These are specific to each sport and require a subscription fee. For example, the NBA channel gives you access to basketball games with a paid subscription. The only caveat is that some of these have blackouts. If the game is broadcast on local TV or is “in market”, you might not be able to watch it on Apple TV, even with a subscription. Make sure to read the details about each service before signing up.

      If you have the 4th generation Apple TV, some of the sports apps are much better than cable TV. Some of the sports apps have very advanced, interactive user interfaces. You can look up information on players, watch two games at the same time, and enjoy other interactive features.

      There are solid rumors that Apple will be offering a live TV channel lineup for Apple TV. The negotiations have stalled, but perhaps we may see this introduced at the WWDC next month. Everyone expects some big announcement about Apple TV. ESPN may be part of the bundle. Stay tuned…

  12. I have bought Apple TV 4th generation
    How do i access the free content? All i can see is the standard Movie and iTune logos alomg with App and Computer etc. No content unless i go to the banner at top – how do i access the content?

    1. You can launch an app (Movies, TV Shows) by using the Siri Remote’s Touchpad to move to the app, then click on the Touchpad. If it’s not clear which app is selected, rotate your finger over the Touchpad and you’ll see the app’s icon move.

      As for free content, you’ll need to download the apps individually from the App Store. Use the Touchpad to move to the App Store icon and click the Touchpad to launch it. From there, you can browse content apps, games, and everything else.

      This article is specific to the channels included on the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs. Apple still sells the 3rd generation model, and, at the time of this writing, more people own 2nd and 3rd generation models than Apple TV 4.

      Most of these channels are available for Apple TV 4. They are available in the App Store. In fact, Apple TV 4 has way more content channels than the older models. Apple announced yesterday that there are 1300 content channels on the new Apple TV. I don’t doubt this. That’s why I can’t possibly write an article like this one for Apple TV 4. You’ll have to explore the App Store to find content apps. A few of my favorites free ones are: CBSN, ABC News, Sky News, YouTube and Comedy Central. The latter isn’t completely free, but I’m able to watch a lot of free episodes.

      I do have a very detailed manual for Apple TV 4 — “Apple TV 4: The Unofficial Manual”. It’s a collection of articles that will help you get the most out of Apple TV 4. I don’t plan on writing a channel guide for Apple TV 4, as there are simply way too many apps and channels to cover. I will probably write some articles about the best apps and content channels.

    1. Some of the apps, or channels, offer local news sections. ABC News offers local news for some cities. Sometimes your local affiliate will have an app. In the SF Bay Area, KRON offers an app and a U-Stream feed of their local newscasts. NBC 11 offers live broadcasts of their news as well. You can beam these onto Apple TV using AirPlay. If you look beyond Apple TV, AirPlay opens up a lot of possibilities. I used to watch the local news with KRON’s app, but now I prefer CBSN, the 24-hour CBS news station. They have an excellent app for Apple TV 4. They also offer a channel for the older Apple TV models. It’s free and does not require a cable subscription.

      A lot of people who cut the cord will get an antenna so they can watch local programming. That’s always an option.

      For the most part, the news channels on Apple TV aren’t local. LiveStream for Apple TV 4 offers several local channels. They also offer an iOS app that supports AirPlay, so it can be used with older Apple TVs.

      1. I believe that for Apple TV to be relevant and successful they have to get to this Single Logon and make this a one time setup then all we want to watch is embedded in the Apple TV menu and we are not having to beam from AirPlay when we find Apple TV doesn’t offer the station .

        1. That’s coming with tvOS 10 this fall. I personally would like to see Apple TV operate independently of cable/satellite subscriptions. Hulu will launch a bundle of live TV channels soon. Sling TV already has something like this. The problem is, they are all missing major networks. The technology is here. It has been for a decade. We just have to wait for the business interests to catch up. There’s been a few news stories that Apple execs are very arrogant in negotiations, which is causing delays. They want special treatment. They don’t want to honor industry standard agreements. Eddie Cue shows up late to meetings with network execs, wearing jeans, sneakers and a Hawaiian shirt. The networks don’t play by Silicon Valley rules.

          I also think AirPlay is kind of a hack and that native tvOS apps are a better experience. Apple really hobbled AirPlay on tvOS. It’s not as stable or reliable as it used to be. I’m always getting dropouts when playing music. They seem to have limited the size of the buffer. If I walk in between my WiFi router and Apple TV, I will often get a second of dead air. I don’t use Apple Music because I found it to be too buggy. The dropouts were even worse. But I never had these problems with Apple TV 2!

          I really like Google Play Music. It’s a great service and they have a very good iOS app. I hope they will deliver a tvOS app, but as it stands, they bypass Apple’s in-app purchases. This may cause problems if they launch a tvOS app. Of course, the lack of tvOS users may also make the platform unattractive to Google. It’s hard to justify spending money to develop a tvOS app, when there aren’t enough potential customers.

          I also used Spotify. It’s also better than Apple Music, but not as good as Google Play Music. Google’s service has 35 million songs, so I am finding more of the music I was missing on Apple Music and Spotify. It’s a shame that very few people are writing about Google Play Music.

    1. I checked the Apple TV 4 App Store, and there isn’t a Pac 12 Network app for tvOS. There’s one for iOS. I downloaded it on my iPhone and was able to use AirPlay to beam videos to my Apple TV. The app does require cable/satellite provider activation for full access.

      1. Thank you for the reply. I guess where I am at is I am a DirecTv subscriber. I want to move completely away from DTV and move to Apple TV. Its very hard to compare pricing unfortunately. I can’t tell if there is a group of subscriptions I can choose from on Apple TV to compare to what I have with DTV. Unfortunately I can AirPlay the PAC 12 Network but I don’t have a subscription to their service as they do not have a contract with DirecTv.

        1. It’s a frustrating situation. I cut the cord a few years ago, and I make do by purchasing a la carte content as I need to. That’s actually quite expensive when it comes to sports. I use a few streaming services, but usually stick with one at a time.

          For now, I think you’re better off sticking with DirecTV.

          Time Warner just bought a 10% stake in Hulu. This seems to indicate that they see Internet streaming as the future.

  13. I read about “cutting the cord”, but I don’t understand how I can get our favorite shows using Apple TV exclusively!
    We get FOX, CBS, NBC (our favorite), PBS, Disney (for when grandkids visit), TV Land (for Everybody loves Raymond, King of Queens), FOX Sorts MW (for Cardinals games) and several more.

    We also have a smart tv where we can get on-demand videos and Vudu for on-demand movies.

    Is Internet-TV the right choice for us?

    1. You may be better off sticking with cable. For all the technological advances, the business models are still stuck in the 1970s. Cable companies want you to subscribe to cable because it costs money to move to a new business model, especially a more competitive one. In most parts of the nation, you have one or two choices. Networks and the cable industry are in collusion to prevent direct access to their content.

      It is possible to watch everything you want on Apple TV, but it may end up costing more than cable. If you cut the cord, you will no longer have a cable account used to activate some of the network Apple TV channels. That means you would have to pay for some of these channels.

      FOX: You can’t get FOX without a cable subscription for activation. You can get most of FOX News and some FOX programming on Hulu. The remaining shows can be purchased, a la carte, on iTunes.

      CBS: CBS requires a cable subscription for activation. You can subscribe to CBS All Access for $5 a month, which gives you all of their programming without a cable subscription.

      NBC: NBC requires a cable subscription for activation. Since they are part of the Hulu partnership, you can get most of their shows on Hulu.

      PBS: PBS is free, but they recently started requiring an extra $5/mo “donation” for “passport” access. This gives you access to everything. Without it, you can still watch a lot for free. I watch the PBS NewsHour for free.

      Disney: Disney offers multiple channels on Apple TV, but they all require activation with a cable or satellite provider.

      TV Land: No tvOS app available, but they do offer an iOS app (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch). You can download the app and beam shows to Apple TV using AirPlay. It usually looks good, unless the network hobbles the video quality. (You can use AirPlay to beam a lot of content to Apple TV from an iOS device or computer.)

      FOX Sports: There is a FOX Sports Go tvOS app for Apple TV, but it requires a cable or satellite subscription for activation. It also has blackouts. MLB offers their own app, which is quite impressive. It’s interactive and far beyond anything you’d find on a cable box. Unfortunately, it’s also quite expensive. It’s $24.99 in the off season. I believe it’s still about $130 during the regular season.

      Given all the expenses, you may end up paying more with Apple TV than if you just stuck with cable. At this point, the only advantage would be a better user experience and other apps — games and interactive media.

  14. Appledystopia, you seem to know your stuff. I have a quick question for you. I downloaded the DirecTV App to my wife’s iPad Pro. I think it used to be called GenieGo. Anyway, it will let me sign in to our DirecTV account and watch live shows, movies, etc. just as I would on the DirecTV satellite, but on the iPad Pro. Can this also be done on Apple TV? I currently have an older Samsung Plasma Smart TV and was wanting to know if I got the Apple TV box, if I could install the DirecTV App on it and watch the content on my TV, like I can on the iPad Pro? Thank you.

    1. DirecTV NOW is coming to Apple TV soon. In fact, AT&T will be giving away free Apple TVs to new subscribers. For now, the DirecTV iOS app does have limited support for AirPlay (the technology that enables one to beam content from an iOS device to Apple TV). Unfortunately, I read that one has to use AirPlay mirroring, which, in this case, doesn’t look great.

      Sometimes AirPlay mirroring looks great. Most video apps support AirPlay without mirroring the screen. AirPlay mirroring basically beams the entire screen of your device onto Apple TV. Standard AirPlay beams just the audio or video content. The latter is usually better quality, but sometimes mirroring can look great. It’s all up to the app developer.

      I would suggest waiting on the Apple TV purchase. There’s going to be great deals. You can probably get the 32GB model for $99 or less soon. Even Apple is going to have black Friday specials. I think 32GB is more than enough, because most content is streamed and the games aren’t that great. I bought a 64GB model at Costco (it was the only one they sold) and I doubt I will ever come close to filling it up even half way with apps.

      Radio Shack had some great deals on Apple TV’s last year, and I expect the same this year. I think Apple TV is overpriced. I think Apple will drop the price on it after Thanksgiving.

  15. How much does everyone pay a month? I have DirecTV and want to switch to Apple but don’t want to pay 120 as I am now.

    1. It all depends on the service you get. It’s very complicated, because unlike cable or satellite, Apple TV is just a device. It can run many different services. DIRECTV NOW is actually one of them, and they offer different packages. I have to warn you that these cable-over-the-Internet packages have limitations. Some of the programs are blacked out. I’m not talking local sports, but just some movie will be blacked out, because they don’t have the rights to broadcast it. Then there are channels that are simply not available. Some services don’t have Comedy Central or CBS. There’s a lot of weird deals going on, as this new technology has inspired a new level of corporate greed. You could end up spending $80/mo on DIRECTV NOW (they have cheaper plans, as low as $30), another $60 for Internet access, and wind up with something inferior to cable. The new technology has resulted in renegotiating everything. I’ve tried PlayStation Vue and Sling TV. None of them are as good as cable or satellite.

      It will change. Hulu will be launching a service that seems promising. I will try it and review it. They actually have CBS on board.

      With Apple TV, your costs depend on your needs. Right now, I have a subscription to Netflix and I rent the occasional movie on iTunes or Google Play. When I get sick of Netflix, I switch to HBO NOW. I get free news from CBSN (there’s a lot of free content). I subscribe to Google Play Music (which I beam onto Apple TV using AirPlay). I spend about $25 a month. But if you’re looking for something similar to cable, right now, the options are a bit disappointing. They seem great, but after evaluating them, I found them all to be inferior to cable — buggy, limited channels, blocked content.

      DIRECTV NOW has a great deal, where you get an Apple TV for free if you sign up for three months of their service. It’s $105 for the deal, which is a great price just for the Apple TV, but you also get three months of DIRECTV NOW. It’s an excellent way to test the waters. If you don’t like it, you could easily sell the Apple TV, maybe for more. Doesn’t seem like there’s much of a downside. If you want to go back to satellite-based DirecTV, I’m sure they’d take you back with an even better deal. If not, cable companies always have great introductory offers.

      One great thing about Apple TV — apps. There are great games and apps. It’s like having an iPhone on the big screen, with a few exceptions. There’s no web browser and there aren’t as many apps as for the iPhone. But I have really enjoyed some of the games. Just make sure not to drop the remote, because it is made out of glass!

  16. After reading most of the Q&A listed above, I think I will stay with DirecTV and check back in 6 months.
    I was in the Apple Store here in Las Vegas, I went through three sales reps. and never got real answers. The first was there on her 4th. day. She turned me over to a senior rep. and he referred me to a super senior rep. If Apple wants to sell this they need to train their sales reps. better.
    Speaking of training I also visited there Genius Bar. There was no genius’s there.

    1. Yeah, if you need a full cable lineup, Apple TV (and all TV devices) just aren’t there yet. There are some promising cable-over-the-Internet bundles (which the tech media calls “over the top” packages), but most of them lack key Viacom networks such as CBS and Comedy Central. It’s not entirely Apple’s fault, apart from their arrogance in dealing with networks. None of the other services were able to get Viacom channels. Viacom is really the culprit here. I believe Hulu will be launching a bundle that will have CBS, but it won’t have as many channels as their competitors. Viacom is the fly in the ointment.

      I agree about the Apple Store. I brought my Mac Pro in for service, and ended up leaving with it after five minutes and a “Genius” huddle. They’re retail employees. Not to knock them, but the word “genius” is a bit grandiose.

    1. You can get up-to-the-minute weather information, however, in terms of a live 24/7 broadcast, that’s not available. They do have video weather reports for most regions. It’s more of an app than a TV channel.

  17. Sir first let me say “Thank You”!
    The information you supply and generate is a valuable resource for all looking to cut the cord.
    Now let’s just say I believe in life without cable. After eliminating cable, buying an Apple TV 4th generation, and preparing to buy the new 4K Apple TV, I just love it. I am one that never questions Apple product selection. If I need it, it will be Apple.
    Period. Makes life much easier for me.
    Now to the one point I hope you can assist with. My wife has zero patience with technology and even less with my decision.
    Would you please give me the options for watching HGTV live, or at least with minimal delay without a cable subscription?
    Laughing? Well consider I was told “put HGTV back on our TV’s or divorce will be the only show you are watching”!!!
    Yes slightly humorous but it has caused a rift!


    1. Let me first say, “you’re welcome”.

      I used to automatically buy Apple products, assuming they are the best. For the most part, they are. I almost bought the new AirPort Extreme router, but it seems to be flawed. It has a fan which breaks, often just outside of the warranty period, which renders the router useless. It overheats and drops connections. I’m so glad I read the reviews. I almost just went ahead and bought it, because my existing 4th gen AirPort Extreme (which does not have a fan) is the best router I have ever owned. Not every Apple product is as good as the iPhone or Mac. Apple TV’s hardware is good, only because it uses iPhone components. It’s pretty much just an iPhone without a screen. tvOS is a different story. The core operating system, inherited from iOS, is solid. Where the tvOS team has had to innovate, they’ve been a bit sloppy. It’s par for the course. It’s stable, thanks to the iOS code base, but quirky, thanks to the tvOS team. This has been true with Apple TV for the past 5 years. I’ve used Apple TV since the 2nd generation model came out.

      Unfortunately, HGTV requires a TV provider subscription (cable, satellite) for activation. This is true of most network apps, but it is changing. Just today, I found out that The CW has an app that offers everything for free! Those geniuses figured out that they could use advertising to make money. The NBC app now allows watching all shows (for up to 8 days after they air) without activating the app with a TV provider. It’s changing, but before you go cancelling cable, understand that HGTV is the norm. Without a cable or satellite subscription, the tvOS app is pretty much useless. At best, you can watch one or two episodes of select shows. Everything else is locked until the app is activated using your cable/satellite subscription, which is a convoluted process.

  18. Ah, Apple guru – my lovely wife requires to watch FOX sports southwest for she loves her San Antonio Spurs announcers – oh great one is this on Apple or offered on Hulu?

    1. The irony of Apple TV (and all TV devices) is that the sports apps blackout local games! At the very least, you need an antenna to watch in-market games, but some may require cable or satellite, due to reception issues. The sports apps are truly amazing, with 60 FPS video and the ability to watch multiple games at the same time. But they are costly too. They usually cost around $100 for the season.

      This isn’t Apple’s fault. The whole industry is trying to squeeze as much money out of the status quo (cable, satellite) as possible. It’s a “free” market failure. Well, it’s not even a free market, since it is rife with collusion and monopolies.

      The funny thing is, the business model is so obvious — advertising. You watch a game over broadcast TV on an antenna, and the ads pay for it. Some have figured this out. The CW tvOS app for Apple TV is one of the few that is absolutely free and monetized with commercials. There’s a whole murky layer of wheeling and dealing that prevents consumers from enjoying the TV experience we deserve. Eventually, more and more networks will “defect” to the superior experience of digital TV devices, such as Apple TV. I have hope. It is getting better and the transition is accelerating.

  19. What does “limited free content; requires TV provider” mean? If I have an internet connection via Comcast, is that enough or do I need to buy a Comcast TV channel package?

    1. It means that you can watch a few shows for free, but to access everything, you need a cable/satellite/telco TV subscription. I also have Comcast Internet access, and, unfortunately, it does not activate these network apps. They really want you to subscribe to cable so, um, you can watch the same programming on Apple TV. It’s ridiculous. It makes sense for mobile devices, but not for Apple TV. But they just have the same boilerplate deal for any content outside of the cable box. The technology is here. It has been here for over a decade. We just have to wait for the business side to catch up.

      The “cable over the Internet” packages, such as Sling TV, Sony PlayStation VUE, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu and others provide a live, streaming cable TV lineup on Apple TV at a low price. Some of them let you unlock network apps. Unfortunately, they all have limitations. Because delivering cable channels over the Internet is new, the powers that be have taken advantage of it and are charging a premium price for their content. Viacom is a perfect example of this. Some of these packages are missing Viacom channels (CBS, for example) because they wanted a lot of money for their programming.

  20. I think you need to be more specific with your list. You need to segregate each service to identify the following: Requires Internet Access; Requires TV Provider; Access Limited Free Content; Access Extra Content With Subscription.

    1. All tvOS apps require an Internet connection. It is assumed that if you have an Apple TV, you have an Internet connection. You cannot download anything on Apple TV for offline viewing. Even iTunes requires an Internet connection, which differs from iOS and macOS. The other categories you mention are delineated in the list.

  21. My wife and I are in our middle 70’s, retired, and watch a lot of TV. We currently have Comcast Xfinity with the HD Digital Preferred Triple Play Package. We record most everything that we watch so that we can fast forward through commercials. We are an Apple family (27 inch Retina iMac, MacBook Pro Laptop, 2 iPhones, 2 iPods, iPad, and a Generation 4 Apple TV).

    Our Comcast package just went off of the promotional pricing and they now want to raise our monthly outlay to around $225. Comcast does not seem to want to offer any kind of option to keep us in the $150 or below range so we are looking at becoming cord cutters.

    We currently subscribe to NetFlix’s middle package at $11 monthly. Being as we already have one Apple TV I am contemplating the following move. Downgrade my Comcast service to internet only at 25 mbps ($25 monthly). I certainly will not miss the loss of our home phone service and the dozens of daily marketing/scam calls. I would also keep the NetFlix package and add a subscription to DirecTV Now ($60 package) while taking advantage of their free 4K Apple TV offer. This would give us an additional Apple TV for the master bedroom and the DirecTV Now channel lineup covers all the channels that we now watch and then some.

    My biggest question is how do we handle the issue of recording programs. We could sign up for YouTube TV, in lieu of DirecTV Now, which offers unlimited cloud storage, however, the channel lineup with YouTube TV is much more limiting than DirecTV Now. Could you shed some light on this issue? Thank you in advance for any comments or suggestions that you may have.

    1. As it stands, DIRECTV NOW doesn’t offer a DVR. They say that a cloud based DVR is coming soon. They have said that for a year now. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      There are a few other services you may want to try. Sling TV is affordable and pretty good. They offer very flexible packages. Sony’s PlayStation VUE is another good one. I think it is one of the best services. But they’re all missing a few channels, because Viacom is charging a premium for CBS, Comedy Central and other networks. Most of these “cable-over-the-Internet” packages can only pick one Viacom channel, usually CBS. Both Sling TV and PlayStation Vue offer DVRs.

      I recently tested and reviewed Hulu with Live TV. It’s currently in beta, and it has its share of defects. They want consumers to pay full price to beta test it. I don’t think that’s fair. I do recommend going for the free trial. They offer 50 hours of DVR storage included with the base plan, but you can expand it for an extra fee. I found the defects to be frustrating. It’s one of the more expensive services too.

      The good news is that you can try all of these services for free before you buy an Apple TV. They all work on computers, smartphones and tablets. I recommend doing this before you make a decision. But whatever you decide, most of these services don’t lock you in.

    1. It is if you own an Apple TV 2. The newer models have an App Store with thousands of apps. It’s not possible for me to provide these kind of details on all of them.

      I wrote and maintain an article with the top 10 free and paid Apple TV apps. The “free” ones often require a subscription. (Apple considers them free if they can be installed without charging the customer.) These costs are listed in the article.

      I will be updating it shortly with January’s top 10 apps. I try to update it monthly.

  22. Why would anyone actually consider this? All of this content is available for free or nominal cost through android apps?

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