How I Watch TV On My Smartphone

Christian Cawley 10-09-2013

The tide is turning against the traditional TV model of schedules and weekly serials. You can now easily watch television on your smartphone thanks to a handful of apps and a data connection – this is how I do it.


Why I Watch TV On My Smartphone

Before we get into the details, I don’t exclusively watch TV on my phone. Naturally, I mostly use my wall-mounted HDTV, through which I take advantage of on demand TV and PVR catchup whenever I have a spare hour. I also use my first generation Apple iPad and my Windows 8 tablet, the Acer Iconia W700 Acer Iconia W7 Windows 8 Tablet PC Review and Giveaway Slimline, sleek, sexy and silver - but you can’t have everything. The Acer Iconia W7 is a Windows 8 tablet priced between $799 and $999 (depending on the chosen model) that looks as though it... Read More .

As we live in an age when TV shows are watched as and when, rather than when the schedulers deem it necessary, this works for me; as a freelance writer How This Freelance Writer Maximises Productivity With Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 My personal desktop setup has changed considerably in the past few months since purchasing the Acer Iconia W7 series tablet, which I use as my primary PC. Gone is the tower of my old self... Read More , there may be days or even weeks that go by without any TV. Without catchup TV and PVR services I would miss some enjoyable entertainment. While I’m not a fan of “vegging out” in front of the box (or haunted fish tank as it might also be known), there should always be time to enjoy memorable, great television.

For those times when I’m not near a TV but need to catch up or watch live TV How To Stream Live Video From Your Smartphone Whenever I mention to people that I am obsessed with streaming video apps, I almost always get the same response - why would you want to stream real-time video from your phone? What about your... Read More , I use my phone, a Nokia Lumia 920 Nokia Lumia 920 Review & Giveaway A couple of weeks ago, Nokia introduced two new devices to the world: the Nokia Lumia 925 and the Nokia Lumia 928. The top notch of Windows Phone 8 devices, these two smartphones will only... Read More Windows Phone 8 device; much of what follows also applies to Android and iOS devices, however.

How To Avoid Battery Drain While Streaming

One of the main shortcomings of streaming TV to your phone is it effect on the battery. In an ideal world battery problems would be resolved, perhaps with universal wireless charging. Until that happens, you’ll need to take steps to ensure your phone doesn’t dry up just as you reach the cliffhanger of this week’s installment, or the penalty shootout.

Disabling background apps, switching off games and preventing emails and cloud storage from syncing during the period you intend to stream the TV to your phone are all good ideas.



For anyone using a Nokia Lumia 920, you can manage which apps are able to remain running in the background by opening Settings, swiping to Applications and opening Background Tasks. Review the list, looking out for games and services that use GPS, such as Here Drive. To block an app, tap it to view the status screen, then tap Block. This will help considerably, and you can check that the app has closed by pressing and holding Back to check which apps are open.

Top Apps For Watching TV On Your Smartphone

All smartphone platforms are flooded with apps offering the ability to watch TV. Often these are the type of channels you would normally avoid, showing Bosnian dog wrestling or darts from Papua New Guinea. If you’re looking for such a free app available on literally all mobile operating systems, Spb TV is perhaps one of the better examples.

What I mean to say is, these aren’t the shows you would normally want to see. As mentioned above, I have a love of particular shows, ones that can’t be found using these common collections of international and foreign language channels.



Instead, the best apps for watching TV on your smartphone are those that stream the shows you want to see. I don’t have time to just sit in front of the TV letting the pictures dance hypnotically across my eyes without actually taking anything in, and nor should you – good television is a serious business.

If you want to stream TV Hulu Plus vs. iTunes vs. Netflix vs. Amazon Instant Video: Which Is Best? Hulu. iTunes. Netflix. Amazon Instant Video. The lifeblood of online cinema and television. The new wave of home media. The providers of endless entertainment in which pants are not necessarily required. They are the contenders... Read More to your phone, you should be looking at apps such as:



I’m based in the UK, so as well as Netflix and YouTube, I also use:

These three services (cover a large chunk of the best British TV.

What If Streaming Isn’t Possible?

The beauty of catchup TV apps and streaming is that you don’t have to miss your favourite shows. In fact, if your cable or satellite TV sports provider offers live streaming, you can keep up to date with your team’s latest games.

But hold on; while you’re sat at your desk or in a Wi-Fi enabled café or airport lounge, streaming your TV shows over the wireless Internet (or even using 4G) shouldn’t be a problem (as long as such behaviour is permitted on the network).


However, if you’re on board a plane or on the subway/underground metropolitan rail network, you’ll run into a problem – limited or no Internet access. In this situation, you’ll need to download the TV show to your phone in advance, or sync it from your computer.


Whenever I need to watch TV on my phone without an active connection, I use the browser version of an app such as BBC iPlayer 10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of BBC iPlayer What is the best in British entertainment? Is it on TV or on the radio? Either way, both media are accessible with the BBC’s iPlayer service. BBC iPlayer is a browser-based service that is also... Read More , download the show and sync to my phone. For Windows Phone, this means either using the Windows Phone Sync tool How To Backup Media, Apps & Settings On Windows Phone 8 I’ve just about filled the 32 GB internal storage on my Nokia Lumia 920. Initially, I was surprised that it only took me six months, until I realised that I’ve been recording videos in HD.... Read More or copying the video file directly to my phone in Windows Explorer.

Conclusion: How Do YOU Watch TV On Your Smartphone Or Tablet?

You’ve seen how I do it with my Nokia Lumia 920, a collection of superb apps and a bit of syncing – but how do you watch TV on your smartphone? Do you prefer your tablet for viewing TV shows?

A great selection of apps across all popular mobile platforms enables you to enjoy your favourite TV shows, from Game of Thrones to Breaking Bad, Doctor Who This Show Has Been Running 50 Years! Top 9 Websites About Doctor Who Doctor Who is a geeky TV show that has a very extensive catalog of information that spans over fifty years, and it would be foolish for anyone to say that they know everything about the... Read More , The Big Bang Theory or even Big Brother.

Even if you don’t fancy streaming, you can download the full show or sync it from your computer, a useful advantage for those times when you don’t have the advantage of an Internet connection.

So how do you do it?

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  1. Lee Silber
    July 14, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Please tell me the cheapest way to get satellite TV on my smart phone who can I call?

  2. lynnette
    December 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I have nothing but my phone to watch anything on for the next 4 months and I have brain damage from cancer so I like funny Tv. I have the note 4 and unlimited sprint data. I will go look at "yamgo TV" and "yupp" and "blip". Wish me luck world.

  3. Ted Logan
    September 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    There a few good apps out there like Yamgo TV, Yupp and "Blip" that let you watch TV for free on your phone.

  4. Henk van Setten
    September 11, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I don't understand why anyone would want to watch TV on the cramped screen of a smartphone (unless you're so addicted you need to keep your nose glued to the screen 24/7).
    I do use a laptop for watching TV in bed, but not by web streaming (often still inferior choice/quality, everytime I give it a try). My "TV laptop" simply has Win7 WMC connected to a good old DVB-T tuner with a subscription decoder card for all pay channels, so I can see everything in real time, record any series, etc.

    • Like Fun B
      September 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      My phone has a 1080p screen and I always have headphones in my pocket anyway. I don't watch very many things on my phone but there's certainly nothing stopping me from doing so; additionally, all the same information applies equally well to most other mobile devices. I the "Because I can" category, there's a Motorola Xoom in a plastic bag that's hanging from my shower head. I use it to watch The Daily Show as I perform my morning ablutions.

  5. Char
    September 11, 2013 at 1:10 am


  6. Char
    September 11, 2013 at 1:09 am


  7. likefunbutnot
    September 11, 2013 at 1:03 am

    For those of us with mind-boggling local collections of content, and in point of fact as a central aggregating point for online media services, Plex is a godsend. The fact that you can hook in to your Netflix, Amazon and Youtube accounts is just icing on the cake, but the cake is delicious even without.

    • satinder broca
      September 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      what about android users? - you completely forgot us.