The Apple TV is not the cheapest nor the most versatile of the TV boxes out there — but if you’re deep in the Apple ecosystem, the 4th-generation Apple TV can be a great add-on that works seamlessly with all your devices and Apple services.
While the Siri Remote gets a lot of hate for being perfectly symmetrical, I actually think it’s a great little remote once you get past that. The touchpad lends itself to some really quick and seamless interactions when it comes to interacting with apps. And ultimately, that’s what the Apple TV is all about: apps and, in particular, media apps.
Most of the major networks and services have apps for Apple TV. Even the lone holdouts like Amazon Prime Video are soon joining the bandwagon. These are the best apps for watching all the awesome TV shows, movies, sports, and online videos out there.
For the Cord Cutters
Depending on your usage and how invested you are in watching sports, Apple TV has the potential be your only media box. There are now a couple of services that will let you cut the cord and still let you enjoy TV channels live.
1. Sling TV: You get access to 30 channels for just $20/month. It includes ESPN, Disney Channel, AMC, TBS, and more.
2. Channels: If you’ve installed an HDHomeRun TV tuner, you can use this $25 app to watch live TV right on your Apple TV. It has a gorgeous, easy-to-use interface, and it supports pause, rewind, and fast forward functionality.
3. DirecTV Now: This AT&T service gives you access to more than 60 channels for $35/month. This covers local news, sports, and channels like NBC, ABC, Comedy Central, AMC, and more.
4. Hulu with Live TV: This subscription gives you access to the entire Hulu library, plus more than 50 live and on-demand channels. You’ll find FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, FX, and more. The app will let you pause, rewind, and record live TV as well.
All the Great Streaming Services
5-7. Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu. Maybe you want to use the Apple TV along with your cable box. In that case, you’ll find all the major streaming services on Apple TV. Catch up on Game of Thrones with HBO, watch some original series on Netflix, and marathon some 90s sitcoms on Hulu.
If you subscribe to a streaming service, just search for it in the App Store, and you’re bound to find the app.
Alternatively, try searching for apps from your favorite networks. If you already have a cable connection, you can use the same login to watch TV shows from several networks. Networks like ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, CW, PBS, and more have their own Apple TV apps. So just download them, log in with your cable ID, and you’ll have instant access to the back catalog of shows that run on the respective networks.
Get Your Sports Fix
8. MLB: The new MLB app streams games at a crisp 60 frames per second. Plus, you can watch two MLB games in split screen mode.
9. ESPN: As the all-things-sports channel, ESPN’s Apple TV app just took the game to a whole new level. In the newly updated app, you can now watch four different game streams at the same time. And as this is ESPN, you have a lot of different sports to choose from. Everything from college football to MLB, PGA Golf, NBA, college basketball, and more is available in the app.
10. NBA: The NBA’s official Apple TV app gives NBA League Pass members access to exclusive footage. You’ll be able to watch pre-season games and have access to the entire NBA games history.
The Best News Apps
11. Reuters TV: This is one of the best and most innovative ways of consuming news on your Apple TV. The app customizes the news for you based on your location and how much time you have. It will then give you the top stories and the chance to dive deeper into a story that interests you. All of this while using highly-quality videos and to-the-point commentary.
12. Bloomberg TV: If you care about business and finance news, Bloomberg TV’s new app might be all you need. You’ll be able to watch the live broadcast, as well as see the top news, interviews, and insights of the day.
13. Haystack TV News: The app intelligently chooses from a wide range of sources to present you with your own feed of news videos.
Watch Your Own Media Collection
14. Plex: Plex is hands down the best media player on Apple TV. Just download Plex’s Media Server on your PC or Mac, load up your media collection, and stream it to your Apple TV. Plus, doing this doesn’t even cost you any money. If you pay for Plex Pass, you’ll get a cornucopia of new features. Including, but not limited to Live TV, DVR, Cloud sync, music streaming, photo backup, shared media libraries, and a lot more.
15. VLC Media Player: Just like every other platform, VLC on Apple TV will play basically anything you throw at it, completely free of cost. There are multiple ways to add videos to the VLC app, and it supports Plex media server and shared PC libraries. You can also wirelessly add videos to the VLC app using the remote transfer feature.
The Best of Online Video
16. YouTube: YouTube’s app for Apple TV is a bit too basic, but it gets the job done. Once you log in, you’ll be able to access both your subscriptions and recommended videos. There’s a handy section for watching your latest saved videos as well.
17. Vookmark: Vookmark is a bookmarking service for online video. Use their extension to save videos from all sorts of online sources when you’re on your iPhone or Mac. Then at the end of the day, fire up your Apple TV and watch all your saved videos on the big screen.
18. Facebook Video: These days, it’s impossible to escape videos on the Facebook app. Facebook’s Apple TV app is dedicated to just showing you the trending videos of the day. You can see what your friends are sharing, the top live videos, and more.
19. TED: If you’re into watching TED talks on YouTube, you’ll like the official Apple TV app. The app has a larger collection and offers educational videos as well.
20. Red Bull TV: If you’re into sports or extreme sports, Red Bull TV will bring you the best stuff. The app features collections of its best sports, travel, and adventure videos. Plus, you’ll get coverage from the sporting events that Red Bull is organizing or sponsoring.
21. Vimeo: Vimeo is YouTube’s artsy cousin, and your TV is a great way of watching the beautiful videos that are uploaded by Vimeo creators. You’ll find some really interesting storytelling videos here. If you’re just starting out, Vimeo’s editor picks will help you discover the best videos on the network.
But Wait, There’s More!
While the app collection is nowhere near as big as the iOS App Store, the Apple TV App Store is filled with niche apps — from clock apps, to screensavers, to casual games. Spend some time exploring different categories, and you’re bound to find something interesting.