How to Use the iPhone TV App to Play Movies or TV Shows

By Dwight Spivey

If you want to watch movies or TV on your smartphone, give the iPhone TV app a try. Open the iPhone TV app for the first time and you’ll be greeted with a Welcome screen; tap Get Started. You’ll be asked to sign in to your television provider, if you’ve not done so already.

iPhone TV app

Signing in will allow you to use the iPhone TV app to access content in other apps (like ESPN or Disney), if such services are supported by your TV provider. This way, you only need to use the iPhone TV app to access content and sign in, as opposed to having multiple apps to juggle and sign in to.

Should you decide to skip signing in to your TV provider and worry about it later (or if you’ve already opened the iPhone TV app and cruised right past this part), you can access the same options by going to Settings → TV Provider, tapping the name of your provider, and then entering your account information. If you’re not sure of your account information, you’ll need to contact your provider for assistance.

iPhone TV app

The iPhone TV app offers a couple of ways to view movies and TV shows: via third-party providers or items you’ve purchased or rented from the iTunes Store.

Watching content from third-party providers in the iPhone TV app

To access content from third-party providers like NBC, ABC, PBS, and more, tap the Watch Now button in the bottom-left of your screen. Swipe to see hit shows and browse by genres like Comedy, Action, and others.

iPhone TV app content

Tap on a show that interests you and then tap an episode to see a description, like you see here.

iPhone TV app content description

Tap Play. If you have the app that supports the video, the video will open automatically in the correct app. If you don’t have the app installed, you’ll be asked if you’d like to download and install it.

iPhone TV app

If your iPhone is on the same Wi-Fi network as your computer and both are running iTunes, with the iPhone and iTunes set to use the same Home Sharing account, you see the Shared List. With this setup, you can stream videos from iTunes on your computer to your iPhone.

Watching content from iTunes in the iPhone TV app

To access video you’ve purchased or rented from the iTunes Store, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the TV app icon on the Home screen to open the application, and then tap Library at the bottom of the screen.
  2. On a screen like the one below, tap the appropriate category at the top of the screen (TV Shows or Movies, depending on the content you’ve downloaded), and then tap the video you want to watch.iPhone TV app category

    Information about the movie or TV show episodes appears.

    iPhone TV app

  3. For TV Shows, tap the episode that you’d like to play; for Movies, the Play button appears on the description screen. Tap the Play button and the movie or TV show begins playing.(If you see a small, cloud-shaped icon instead of a Play button, tap it and the content is downloaded from iCloud.)
  4. With the playback tools displayed, take any of these actions:iPhone TV app playback tools
    • Tap the Pause button to pause playback.
    • Tap either Go to Previous Chapter or Go to Next Chapter to move to a different location in the video playback.

      If a video has chapter support, another button called Scenes appears here for displaying all chapters so that you can move more easily from one to another.

    • Tap the circular button on the Volume slider (lower-left) and drag the button left or right to decrease or increase the volume, respectively.

      If your controls disappear during playback, just tap the screen and they’ll reappear.

  5. To stop the video and return to the information screen, tap the Done button to the left of the Progress bar.