The best apps to watch cable on your iPhone and iPad

By , Jun 13, 2013

Watch NBC on iPad

I am one of those people who has “cut the cord” of cable television. Actually, I never had the cord in the first place. I’ve just managed to get by on broadcast TV. When the nation went digital, I didn’t even get a converter box for my TV set. I spend most of my media-watching time on Netflix or Hulu Plus on my Apple TV.

However, there are times when watching television is necessary for me, like when there is an earthquake (which actually happened in Sacramento a few weeks ago) or following the presidential elections. For those times, I go to my iPad or iPhone.

Whether you’ve cut the cord on cable and need a way to watch broadcast television, or want to take your favorite cable shows on the go with you, we have a list of apps to suit your needs…

Watch ABC

Keep up on all your favorite shows, watch popular episodes on-demand, in some cities, take advantage of live streaming of the broadcast network.


View more than 100 full episodes of latest NBC shows, access behind the scenes clips and previews, play trivia games, and more.


Watch full episodes of the most popular programs, participate in discussions with others in the live social feed, personalize your show list, and check out pictures and cast bios of your favorite shows.

Fox Now

Access popular programs and access special features through SYNC, cable subscribers watch full episodes, check out behind-the-scenes previews and clips of Fox’s most popular TV shows.

CW Network

Stream full episodes of your favorite shows, up to the five most recent releases, connect directly through Facebook and Twitter for social integration, watch bonus clips, see photos, and view the broadcast network’s schedule.


Watch currently scheduled programs, access archived shows, connect with Facebook, and view the non-profit network’s content schedule.

Watch ESPN

Cable subscribers can access ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU to watch NBA games, MLB games, the Masters, US Open, and more.

CNN App for iPhone

Follow up-to-the-minute news as it develops and watch live video of events. Be an iReporter by uploading your own photos and videos of the news from your point of view.

Watch Disney Channel

Cable subscribers can watch popular programing on demand from any iOS device, including syncing so you can pick up where you left off anywhere.

Watch Disney Junior

Similar to Watch Disney Channel, but exclusive to Disney Junior TV shows like Mickey Mouse Club. Designed for ages 2 to 7.

Watch Travel Channel

Cable subscribers can access 40 different popular programs with access to full episodes of many TV shows with full schedule of monthly programing.


Cable subscribers can watch HBO’s hit exclusive TV shows, as well as currently running movies. Access behind-the-scenes extras of your favorite shows and create customized playlists for a personalized TV-watching experience.

Max Go

The same as HBO Go, but for Cinemax.


Cable subscribers have access to full episodes and clips from popular shows. You can also create customized playlists and see exclusive clips and deleted scenes.


The same as A&E, but for the History Channel. Cable subscribers can also look up additional clips about the most fascinating categories of history.


The same as A&E, but for Lifetime.

Showtime Anytime

Cable subscribers have access to every single episode of a dozen exclusive Showtime TV shows, plus championship boxing and 60 Minute Sports.

USA Anywhere

Cable Subscribers can join in on Character Chatter to discuss currently playing shows, start a FaceTime chat with other fans, and get real-time polls and trivia about your favorite programs.

MTV WatchWith

View video clips, photos, blog posts and play trivia with this network companion app.

MTV News

Check out exclusive videos, read articles on MTV News, TV shows, movies, and keep up on the gaming blog. See photos from MTV Events.

Discovery Channel

Access premium bonus content with Discovery Plus, the app’s second-screen featured. Plus, watch clips and even full episodes of the network’s most popular shows.


Watch Bloomberg Television Live, 24-hours a day with top videos of breaking news, read related articles, and access top interviews from Bloomberg Radio.

Bravo Now

Access exclusive behind-the-scenes information from actors and producers. See exclusive photos, read trivia, participate in viewer poles, and access social networking features to discuss your favorite shows with other fans.

TLC For iPad and iPhone

Watch full episodes of popular shows, read summaries of each show and what time it airs. See daily video clips and tag your favorites for viewing later.

Food Network On TV

Get recipes and highlights from your favorite shows, see exclusive video clips and behind-the-scenes photos, read chef biographies, and check out the network’s programing schedule.

E! Online

Access daily Pop of Culture information, get breaking entertainment news, photos, and videos, read celebrity scoops and watch clips of your favorite E! shows.


DIRECTV registered customers can watch thousands of TV shows and movies On Demand from HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Encore, and more.


Time Warner Cable subscribers can watch their favorite shows On Demand, set up recording with their DVR, and even watch some shows away from home.

There are also a variety of apps from local cable providers in your area.

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  • Paul

    There’s a typo on the second sentence. After the word actually, there is a dot but there should be a comma. I think.

    • Mr. E

      *”there is a dot but there should be a comma, I think.” jk 😛

      • Paul

        Haha well i don’t know it might be a typo you know!

      • Paul

        Haha! I was right, Mr. E! It was a typo.

    • Sebastien

      Typo fixed. Thank you, sir :)

      • Paul

        You’re welcome Sébastien.

  • Justin Marshall

    Does anyone know if the jailbreak tweak that enables airplay for any video app is still working? I remember using it before on ios5 but unsure if it is still in commission.

    • Albert Zamora

      DisplayOut is working for me I have JB iPad mini 6.1.2

      • Justin Marshall

        Awesome. Thank you.

    • Dan Castro

      i use unrestrict Premium, this one unrestrict AirPlay and HDMI use.

  • Al

    SlingPlayer for me.. :-)

    • Kurt

      if you are at home its good, but away the quality is garbage

      • Byron Davis

        I beg to differ on that. If your upload speeds at home suck, So will the picture. I have my slingbox running on my comcast connection with 10Mb up and can do HD or SD with out a problem.

      • Kurt

        Good point. I bought a slingbox and had my twin hook it up on his cable. Here in Korea I stream from netflix in HD no problem. But netflix was crappy enough I stopped using it. Plus most channels let you watch it from the web.

  • Noah Rubin

    T-Mobile TV offers a few live channels and some on demand content for a monthly fee.

  • homer31

    You are clearly not a big sports fan. I wouldn’t be either if I was in Sacramento, but here in New York, I need to watch Knicks, Rangers, Yankees, and even the Jets… sometimes. With all the blackouts on the apps, be it radio or TV, it makes it pretty hard to watch on a iPad.

    • Lory Gil

      I included Watch ESPN. :)

  • 9JordanMiller2

    You left out an important one… T Mobile TV. I use it quite a bit as well as MovieBox for jailbroken users 😉

  • Jorge Silvestrini

    Interesting – but most of them right now you pay for cable and also get the shows on their iPad/iPhone apps… I’m wishing for only paying for the channels or shows I want to watch and then get the feed on iPad/iPhone or Apple TV… Maybe it is a bit weird to do it that way…

    • Lory Gil

      I think that is something everyone wishes for. We’ve been waiting for single-channel subscription options for as long as cable has been in existence. Maybe someday.

  • Gorgonphone

    show me one hat does not require me to actually have cable and i will

  • CUAviator

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how to “cut the cord” but still watch live sports (on my iPad/TV/atv, etc) and my favorite shows from Showtime (Dexter, Homeland).

    • Lory Gil

      Live sports: hang out at your local sports bar. Favorite shows: Wait for them to show up on Netflix and Hulu Plus, or figure out how to watch them for free on the Internet.

  • Joshua Jones Makaveli

    Aint nobody got money for that shit.