You arrive home rested and refreshed from your vacation “away from it all”, eager to catch up on your favorite shows. What happened on Big Brother? Your soaps? You’re excited to watch the movies you recorded on your dvr while you were away. You arrive home to discover in horror that a lightning storm cut electricity to your house and none of your shows recorded. You’re already in a post-vacation funk and knowing that your shows didn’t record only makes it worse.
Tech to the rescue!
If you crave your favorite tv shows, make sure you check out tv apps from the iTunes App Store (iOS apps for your iPhone, iPad and or iPod Touch) and Android Market. Many networks have launched apps that will play full episodes of shows on your smartphone or iPad, many over 3G and Wi-Fi. What’s even better is that commercial interruptions tend to be much less frequent than if you were sitting at home, getting a sore thumb from pressing the fast forward button on your dvr remote.
Pros: ABC has their shows available for free on this app, usually the day after they air. You can catch up on your favorite soap, night time show (Wipeout! is one of their more popular shows on the app), or evening news. Commercials are minimal and the shows air over 3G or Wi-Fi.
Cons: The app is iPad only. No iPhone or Android apps are available.
2. TV.com (CBS)
Pros: This app is from CBS and shows most of their primetime shows in full with minimal commercials. There is both an Android and iPhone app and the shows play over 3G and Wi-Fi. Missed a Big Brother episode? No problem, Tv.com is free! CW, CNet, Showtime and Classic shows are also included in the app.
Cons: There is no iPad app. You can enlarge the image, but the quality isn’t as good as an iPad app would be. This app, from CBS, is difficult to find in the iTunes App Store, because a search for CBS won’t reveal this app. Not all shows include full episodes.
Pros: PBS has an iPhone app and a separate iPad app, with lots of free, quality content. This app has sharp picture quality and works on 3G and Wi-Fi.
Cons: PBS does not yet have an Android app and not all shows are included (if NOVA is your guilty pleasure, you’re out of luck).
Pros: Netflix has a wide selection of content, including entire seasons from past years and shows that are no longer on the air. Shows play over 3G and Wi-Fi.
Cons: Netflix requires a subscription. Shows from current seasons generally are not available.
Pros: Hulu+ has shows more current than Netflix. Recent shows are available and you can sign up for season passes.
Cons: Your selection of content on the Hulu+ app is more limited than with Hulu+ online or Netflix. A subscription fee is required. The app has commercials and is reported to crash frequently.
6. HBO GO
Pros: The app and its content are free for HBO subscribers. The app has a generous selection of HBO shows and movies (see, HBO GO App News!). HBO GO is available on iOS and Android.
Cons: An HBO subscription is required. Access to some shows expires after a limited time.
Pros: You can watch tv anywhere you have Internet. The app works over 3G and Wi-Fi. There are SlingPlayer apps for iPhone, Android and iPad. You can watch live or recorded shows from your home or anyone’s home who let you connect to their Slingboxes. See, TV Fan? This Sling Is for You! There is no subscription fee and you can watch as many channels or recorded shows as you have on your home tv.
Cons: Price. Each mobile app costs $30. You don’t get credit for buying the app on a different platform (though the iPhone app will work on the iPad). A Slingbox, needed to transmit signal to your SlingPlayer app, costs $259 at Amazon.
Pros: You can buy tv shows without a subscription. Shows are generally available beginning the day after they air. You can download and watch these shows anywhere in the world, if you have a US iTunes account. If you have an AppleTV, you can watch the shows on your TV after you purchase them. You can purchase a Season Pass to buy all the shows from a season at a discount. Shows are available in Standard or High Definition
Cons: Not all shows are available. Most shows are large files so can only be downloaded over Wi-Fi, not 3G. No Android app.
Pros: Xfinity (formerly Comcast) subscribers can watch live and on demand shows. The app also functions as a tv remote and allows you to program the Xfinity dvr from your iPad or iPhone while you’re away from home.
Cons: No Android app. Xfinity subscription required. App seems buggy and is subject to crashing.
10. TWCable TV
Pros: This app allows streaming of live TV to your iPad. The app also functions as a remote control, so you can change channels and program your dvr from your iPad.
Cons: A Time Warner Cable subscription is required. The app only works in your home, you leave your home and the app ceases to function. Reviews on iTunes indicate that the app is buggy. The app is iPad only.
Pros: The CNN app now allows you to watch CNN Live through your iPad and iPhone. Live alerts from CNN are available on the Android app when breaking news occurs.
Cons: CNN Live requires signing in with your cable tv provider. Not all tv providers are included in the app. CNN Live is not included in the Android app.
12. Al Jazeera
Pros: The app is free and streams live news. If you’re wondering what the rest of the world is thinking about the US, check out this app. Apps are available for iPhone, iPad and Android. Works on 3G and Wi-Fi. Can pause live stream.
NBC and Directv, unfortunately, are not competitive with tv apps. NBC still does not re-broadcast its shows over an app, though perhaps that has to do with its merger with Comcast? Whatever the reason, fans of NBC shows are eagerly awaiting the Peacock network to launch an ABC-style app.Directv doesn’t stream shows over its app either, so their Android and iOS apps merely function as a way to program Directv dvr’s when away from home.
Do you catch up with your favorite shows while watching them on an app? Do you prefer to watch tv shows on apps with fewer commercials? Do you crave tv when you’re on the go? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Image by Mike Behnken