Best TV Apps for iPhone / iPad

One of the neatest things to do with an iPhone (or any smart phone) is to watch TV streams “live” on your phone.

Now saying it is “TV” is technically a misnomer–you aren’t technically receiving over the air TV frequencies with your phone and displaying them. Instead these are streaming video feeds from a variety of sources around the net that have been nicely packaged and laid out for display on your iPhone.

The apps can be sorted into a number of different types, traditional vs. Internet broadcasters, and collators vs. individual stations. It’s also worth noting that the Chinese presence in IPTV dwarfs, by a large amount, the efforts of other countries. Chinese Internet TV activity is rather amazing in that there is simply so much available. US broadcasters have not quite caught up, but recent developments by the Cable companies are a sign that might soon change.

So let’s go through a list with a few reviews:

Individual Stations

Al Jazeera English Live – Livestation — (Traditional Broadcaster) — AJE is an international news service that has really made a name for itself during the Arab revolutions of 2011. While it is still criticized by some in the West for ‘biased’ reporting on issues such as the US invasion of Iraq and the Arab-Israeli peace process, AJE has established itself internationally as a major player in the international news community. AJE is now viewable on cable TV in most parts of the US (due to the aforementioned controversy) but their iPhone app is a must have for any news afficiando. AJE has really gone to great lengths to get their voice out on non-traditional communication’s channels such as mobile phones, the Internet, and streaming media players like the Roku

FRANCE 24 – France 24 (Traditional Broadcaster) — France 24 is France’s answer to CNN and the BBC World Service. Broadcasting from Paris in English and French, France 24 offers a European take on the international news and is definitely worth adding to your iPhone collection.

DW–(Traditional Broadcaster)–Deutsche Welle is the German international broadcaster offering a mix of English and German programming throughout the day (often the same exact show just in different languages). Streams and podcasts of their programs are available through this app.

CCTV (CNTV) — (Traditional Broadcaster) — CCTV is the Chinese state broadcaster offering a wide variety of programming from sports to those long episodic soap operas. They have an English-language service but this app gives you access to a wide variety of the official government programs from China.

NHK WORLD TV Live – NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) (Traditional Broadcaster)–Made far more relevant by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, NHK World’s iPhone app gives you English-language programming from Japan. Sometimes you get an HD quality stream too.

SKY TG24 — (Traditional Broadcaster) — This is a Turkish broadcaster broadcasting in Turkish news and other programming from Turkey. I haven’t watched it very much but the production quality looks rather professional.

AJE Sports — (Traditional Broadcaster) — Al Jazeera has a full time sports programming which includes quite a few soccer matches from middle eastern nations. Occasionally they’ll have some other sports programming but generally you’ll see football most of the time.

BFM–(Traditional Broadcaster – French). This is a 24-hour news channel based in France with a worldwide satellite audience. The coverage tends to be about French news and France or EU-related


TVU Player iPad
icon (Lite and Full) This is one of my most important apps as it gives me access to literally 100s of traditional broadcasters from around the world. You won’t find BBC or CNN in there [ usually 😉 ] but there is plenty on this app to keep you occupied. If you are a sports fan, particularly a soccer fan, than this app is a must have. They carry a number of matches from around the world on this app and you’ll have plenty of content to keep you busy. They also have some movie channels airing some copyright expired movies.

PPTV is another good app, eventhough most of the instructions are in Chinese. Originally I thought there were some live channels but on further inspection it appears most of it is ‘on demand’ movies, some of which you kind of wonder ‘do they really have the re-broadcast rights for this’? American and European movies along with tons of Chinese films are found throughout this app.

ELTA TV This is a Taiwanese app that has a number of pre-recorded programs, but occasionally has some sporting highlights from the NBA or MLB.

W.TV iPad
icon–This one is wild. It has all sorts of content, of questionable copyright, filling it’s directory of live and on demand movie programs. It’s in Chinese, but not all the movies are Chinese–some are still in the theaters in the USA.

Livestation (Web) This is one of my favorite websites for watching television. I strongly recommend their mobile site, as a bookmark on your homescreen as they offer a number of channels in iPhone and iPad compatible streams. Euronews is on this channel, something I watch frequently to get the EU perspective on things.

Internet Only

TWiT – ShiftKeySoftware–This week in Tech is a great app with great tech-related content. It’s also a massive warning shot to any traditional broadcaster. Leo Laporte and his crew have patched together ‘a tv station’ with not much more than a lot of bandwidth and a number of TV cameras. They broadcast daily, live and then stream repeats throughout the night. I would love to emulate this model with other content–just have to buy some nice bandwidth and get started. Maybe next week.

Oh man this list is going to be long. I think I’m going to have to take a break before it gets out of control…

Here are a few others worth investigating on your own:

YUPPTV–Indian programming

RAYV TV–Random TV channels

MOSS–Random TV channels (a few good ones too)

I.TV–Links to some streams

SPB.TV–Some German or French channel.

netTV Lite–Random TV channels, paid version has more interesting bits.

MobiTV–Works in the US. Subscription model.

GrandLille TV–French Channel.

Xfinity TV–Comcast app. Works in the USA

We Stream–Random TV channels

Zappo TV–Random TV channels

MTS TV–Random TV channels

SMC TV–Chinese channels

Infinity TV–Random TV channels

On Air Live–Random stuff

Tai Seng–TONS of Hong Kong dramas and movies on demand.

UStream–Random TV and user channels

JustinTV–Random TV and user channels