If you’re desperate to catch your favourite TV show but you’re nowhere near a television, good news. These days you can easily stream and watch most freeview and even premium channels on your mobile phone or tablet. Here’s our pick of the best apps for streaming UK TV channels to your smart device, and how to get started.
While it’s still preferable to enjoy the latest TV shows on the big screen, it’s not always possible to snuggle on the sofa and settle in for a Don’t Tell The Bride marathon. Likewise, you might be missing the big game because you’re stuck at some awkward family event.
Luckily no matter where you roam, you can always watch a huge range of the biggest channels, including BBC, ITV, sports channels and plenty more besides, on your humle smartphone.
How do I stream TV to my iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet?
All you need to stream TV to your mobile is a reliable data connection. If you have an unlimited data contract, then this can be done through your mobile operator, with no worry about massive bills. But we’d recommend connecting your iPad, iPhone or Android device to a decent WiFi network for the best results.
There are plenty of decent free WiFi networks which are easy to find and log on to here in the UK. For instance, O2 offers free WiFi to anyone, even if you’re not on O2. Meanwhile many pubs, cafes and restaurants deliver a decent connection too, for paying customers.
Many of the following TV streaming apps are free to use, and require little more effort than downloading them and signing up for an account. We’ll be sure to let you know if any charges are involved.
Best TV streaming apps: BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer allows you to catch up with the Beeb’s TV and radio offerings from the last seven days. Favourites are very easy to set up and can also be shared via Facebook or Twitter. You can also watch live TV if wanted, with decent picture quality if your connection is strong. And if you don’t have a reliable connection, you can always download shows to watch before you leave home.
To get streaming via iPlayer, just download the app to your phone or tablet via the App Store (iPhone/iPad) or Google Play (Android devices).
Best TV streaming apps: ITV Hub
The ITV Hub app gives full access to ITV’s live channels – including ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, CITV and ITV Be – as well as previously aired content to view over and over. This includes sporting shows, real life documentaries and plenty of light entertainment.
All you need to do is download the ITV Hub smartphone and tablet app. On your Apple or Android device, head to the App Store or Google Play store to find it. You’ll need to sign up for an account before you get streaming, but thankfully this is free and easy to do.
Best TV streaming apps: All 4 (Channnel 4)
All 4 is Channel 4’s very own TV app, which gives you live streaming of Channel 4, E4, More 4, Film 4, 4 Music and more. All you need to do is sign up for an account and you can start watching immediately, while you also get free access to Channel 4’s back catalogue.
As usual, just head to your device’s app store and download to begin.
Best TV streaming apps: TVPlayer
TVPlayer is another live TV streaming app which offers full access to the major UK free-to-view channels. You can download the app and start watching 77 channels at once, including all of the standard terrestrial channels, plus the likes of Dave, Food Network, the Travel Channel and so on. Kids are catered for with CBeebies and CITV, while music fans can get stuck into Kerrang, Kiss, Magic and plenty of others.
If you’re willing to pay £5.99 a month you can also get access to TVPlayer’s Plus channels. These include Gold, MTV, National Geographic and Eurosport. You also get lots of extra kids channels, such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr, and Cartoonito.
We’re particularly big fans of the nifty built-in TV guide, which clearly shows what’s on and what’s coming up at a quick glance.
You can download the TVPlayer app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store right now.
Best TV streaming apps: ToView
ToView gives you instant access to a wide range of free-to-view TV channels on your phone or tablet, just like TVPlayer, but also including regional stations here in the UK. There are also some foreign channels to watch live, including news stations from across Europe.
To get the ToView app, just head to the App Store or Google Play store and download for free.
Best TV streaming apps: iTunes
ITunes might not stream live TV, but if you don’t mind shelling out some cash, you can download and enjoy a wide range of TV shows to your iPhone or iPad.
Picture quality is excellent and it’s great to be able to download HD versions if desired, although iTunes isn’t exactly cheap. Some telly boxsets can cost around £30 or £40. Still, if you’re off on holiday it’s certainly an option.
Best TV streaming apps: Sky Q/Sky Go
If you’re a Sky customer, you can use the Sky Q app to watch live TV on your phone or tablet, from anywhere in your home. You can also download shows direct to your mobile device to enjoy on the go. However, you have to be on the same WiFi network as your Sky Q box in order to watch live TV. This isn’t any good for enjoying live shows on the go.
Likewise, Sky Go offers a wide range of movies and catch-up TV, which you can download to your Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad.