3 More Free TV Apps for iPad (Finally!)

| Free on iTunes

What took them so long?

ABC led the way over a year ago with a dedicated iPad app that let you watch full TV show episodes. In fact, ABC came up with two, if you want to throw its news app in the mix.

Grudgingly, over the course of the last twelve months, which is an eon in computer years, other smaller TV content providers, like PBS and HGTV, brought dedicated channel apps to the market, complete with access to full show episodes. I guess the others were waiting to see if the iPad was merely a fad, like candy shelled iMacs. Maybe they took Adobe’s at its word, siding against Steve Jobs and his insistence that Flash has had its day, and believed that their Web-based offerings were good enough. Perhaps they were good enough for people who expect good enough. Users of Apple products, however, tend to expect a bit more.

That’s not a fanboy statement. iPod and iPhone users expect their products to work well. It’s one of the reason we pay a premium for them. This does not mean the Apple products are flawless, far from it, only that when people pay more for something they tend expect more from it. Why would you pay for a BMW only to have it drive like a Toyota?

Apple is able to command a premium because the company has cultured the belief that you’re buying something more than a music player or smart phone. But I digress. Back to iOS TV apps.

NBC, TBS, and TNT have finally thrown their iOS app hats into the ring and have recently released dedicated apps respectively.

Apps from all three channels are pretty. They offer full episodes, but you can’t send them to your big screen via Airplay. That’s a shame and would have made apps like these very attractive. Even if they are commercially sponsored, being able to watch the latest episode anytime would sure increase the audience headcount which, in turn, provides more eyes to advertise to. I’m sure the myopic networks are calling the shots on that regard.

At any rate, the apps are here now, and they are nice.


NBC’s app is loaded with extras. You get trivia games, show photos, video clips of choice moments, even some behind-the-scenes stuff. If you are a true NBC oriented couch potato then you can create an account so that you can comment on videos and save your game scores.


The apps from TBS and TNT are not as nice, in my opinion. They require an account with a cable/satellite TV provider to watch full episodes. I kinda understand that; TBS and TNT are not a broadcast channel, and so is not freely accessible, but, again, here is where the networks are shortsighted. They could have provided full episodes of older shows, or heavily advertise on episodes for anyone without an account. That would have been an attraction. Instead, what they have is a roadblock and a turn-off.


Unlike NBC’s app, TBS offers few extras, even if you do sign in. No games and the info they provide for the shows they air is sparse. There is one saving grace, however: no commercials!


Whereas TBS is about comedy, TNT is about drama, and its app is a virtual twin to TBS’. Even though I do have to log in with my DirecTV account, I’m still happy because I get to watch Falling Skies, a new TNT SciFi show that I completely missed.


All apps require Internet access to be used, and the quality of that access gates the quality of the video. I tried watching a show using the free WiFi in a coffee shop, and it was a horrible experience. At home, where I have at least 5Mbps downstream all to myself, I had no problem with any of the shows I fired up. Keep that in mind if you intend to catch up on your soaps while waiting for a flight to board.


Of the broadcast channels, CBS and Fox are the holdouts, and of the two, I’d be happier to see Fox produce an app. I’d be excited if USA came up with an app as well, that way I can catch up on the antics of Michael Weston in Burn Notice.

Ah well. I guess we’ll just have to make do with what we have. Everyone can get and enjoy NBC’s new app. Those of you with a paid TV service can also grab apps for TBS and TNT. Now you can be a couch potato wherever you go.

That’s a wrap for this week. More TV oriented freebies below with direct links.

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I don’t pretend to know much about American TV offerings, or the plethora of stations we get on our cable service. My wife accuses me of what I can best describe as cultural snobbery. I reply that culture has nothing to do with it; it’s a question of time. Besides, I spend most of my time abroad. Admittedly, with my watching habits, most networks would go out of business.

However, your point about the growth of dedicated apps vs web-based offerings is telling. I would argue that it is part of a broader trend in which businesses are apparently tracking use by platform and hardware, and are clearly trying to optimise the iPad user experience, which I see in medical science sites increasingly.


Wab95, I have no interest in sit-coms (and other shows) instructing viewers in the shadow arts of cynicism and smart-arse put-downs, nor am I inclined toward the corporatist propaganda that poses as TV “news” these days.  So I may be put down a cultural snob as well.

But I am interested in live TV, including sports events, which are sometimes available, although not often enough over the web. In decades past, advertising was sufficient to fund “free” TV broadcasts. It’s a pity that model hasn’t been applied more to netcasts, instead of the few replay opportunities Vern describes here. What IS taking them so long?



You’re speaking my language.

When I say, ‘it’s a question of time’, I mean not simply that I have very little recreational or discretional time (true enough), but what little of it I have, I want to use for genuine betterment, either of my family, myself, or my world. Among those pursuits is all of that great literature to which, in my youth, I was pointed; literature only a sampling of which was perused in school, with the intent that the curious amongst us would come back and drink more deeply.

The flippant inconsequentiality that passes for entertainment (NB: I am not painting all programmes with this brush - this will mean different things to different people) - is not my idea of betterment, or even a healthy use of my time. It leaves me wishing I could get a time refund. The residual unhappiness is simply not worth it.

On the other hand, I do enjoy the occasional blockbuster brain holiday at the cinema or at home like everyone else. And, I am a big believer in diversity, and what constitutes a time waste for one may be psychologically and spiritually restorative to another, and no one is to judge.

The point of my diatribe is that one must be selective; and that means investing the time to investigate which shows are worthwhile, if any. And for that, I simply have not made the time.

Here endeth the rant.


Where’d you guys get that picture of Sardonumspar from “Golden Child”?  :-D


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