The best apps to watch cable on your iPhone and iPad

By , Jun 13, 2013

best cable apps

Over the past few years, cable channels have really jumped on the on-demand bandwagon and now offer premium content available on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. If you have a cable subscription, the entertainment-viewing world is your oyster.

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

Apps for watching cable

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

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.

AMCSo, maybe you were busy for the season finally of The Walking Dead and want to watch it before someone spoils the plot for you. Download this app, log in, and watch it on your lunch break without missing a beat.

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

Bravo NowAccess 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.

Cartoon NetworkSaturday mornings have never been so cartoon-a-rific. Watch your favorite animated series any time you’d like. Plus, with the recommendations feature, the app will build a show playlist based on what you watch.

CBSWatch 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.

CinemaxThe same as HBO Go, but for Cinemax.

CNNFollow 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.

Comedy CentralComedy Central’s nighttime lineup may have had a shakeup in 2015, but that doesn’t mean the channel isn’t still flowing with great content. With this app, you can watch current shows on-demand, older shows that you still love, and stand-up events. Plus, watch in real-time.

Cooking ChannelFood. What more could a person want? Watch full episodes of the cable channel’s content whenever, wherever. Plus, stream the Cooking Channel’s schedule live.

CWStream 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.

Discovery ChannelAccess 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.

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

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

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

ENCORESame as STARZ Play (it’s from the same company), but for the Encore Channel.

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

Food NetworkGet 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.

FoxAccess 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.

Fox NewsIf you like Fox for one reason, its news program, you’re in luck. You can watch the broadcast network’s reports anytime, all day long. You can even get alerts of breaking news sent to you while you are offline.

FXFX is that cable channel that once broadcast every single episode of the Simpsons in one go. If you want to relive that experience, or do the same with other content from FX, FXX, or FXM, this app has it all.

HBOCable 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.

HGTVIf you secretly long for the chance to remodel your home, but don’t want to put out the effort, sit down with the Home & Garden’s network channel and watch other people do it. You can stream the channel live, and watch episodes of original content on-demand.

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

LifetimeThe same as A&E, but for Lifetime.

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

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

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

NickYour kids will thank you when you log in for on-demand content from Nickelodeon. Plus, play fun games, watch exclusive videos, and participate in bite-sized polls

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

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

STARZGet access to entire original series from the star-studded cable network. Watch full shows from past seasons anytime. Plus access brand new episodes of current seasons the day after they air.

SyfyCable subscribers can log in and watch the Syfy channel in real-time from their iPhone. Plus watch shows and movies on-demand, as well as behind-the-scenes content and interviews.

TBSRemember when the Sunday night lineup included such cartoon sitcoms as Family Guy, American Dad, the Simpsons, and Futurama? Well, you can bring back some of that nostalgia with this app, which also gives you access to The Big Bang Theory, as well as live Major League Baseball games and award shows.

TCMFilm buffs will appreciate that this app is filled with Turner Movie Classic’s best content. You can either watch the channel in real time on East or West Coast time, or pick from thousands of on-demand movies and short films. There is also a plethora of interactive content you can access while watching these talkies.

TLCWatch 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.

TNTWith TNT, you can get your crime drama fix. The app includes exclusive extra conent like behind-the-scene videos and webisodes. Watch NBA games live and full movies on-demand.

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

truTVAlthough the reality TV show craze has died down, there are still some shows that we can’t help but get addicted to. Watch as real people awkwardly experience life on-demand, or in real-time on the East or West Coast.

USACable 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.

Cable provider apps

If you’d prefer watching your favorite shows from your favorite channels all in one place, go the direct route through your cable provider’s official app.

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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.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Typo fixed. Thank you, sir :)

      • Paul

        You’re welcome Sébastien.

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 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

      • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 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.

    • http://www.sacramaniacs.com/ 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 😉

  • http://jorgesilvestrini.com/ 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…

    • http://www.sacramaniacs.com/ 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 bite..lol

  • 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).

    • http://www.sacramaniacs.com/ 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.

  • http://WorldstarHipHop.com/ Joshua Jones Makaveli

    Aint nobody got money for that shit.