Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire

Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire

Do you ever just want to watch TV?

You know, not pick something to watch (outside of choosing a channel), but just see whatever is playing?

I know that sounds weird to a lot of you. When I was a kid, you didn’t have any choice about what was on. We didn’t have on demand, or Tivo, or DVDs, or videotapes. I did have some movies on Super 8mm, but they were three minute long silents and I needed to get out the projector. :)

When we watch broadcast TV now, we can go through a “guide” first to see what is playing.

Well, what if you do want to be surprised?

Better yet, what if you know that the kids just want to watch Cartoon Network and you don’t want to go through the big rigmarole of deciding what show to put on?

You can do that on your Kindle Fire with this free app:

US TV Free

Let me warn you, this is not an optimal viewing experience. :) It has ads (tiny ones, like the ones you would see in other apps), and it periodically asks me if I’d like to upgrade to Pro…in the middle of the screen.

Sometimes it buffers (where you have to wait for the video to load), and sometimes it has foreign language subtitles.

It also stops working from time to time.

I’d like it to the old hobbyist crystal radio set I had when I was a child, or trying to tune a TV with “rabbit ear” antennae.

That said, it does work. :)

What channels do they have?

This list could change at any time, I’m sure, but here is what I see right now:

  • HBO
  • Showtime
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cinemax
  • Discovery Channel
  • MTV Spanish
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN2
  • Fox News
  • ESPN
  • Animal Planet
  • National Geographic
  • Panorama Action
  • ESPN America
  • BBC
  • A&E
  • MSNBC
  • Fox Movies
  • CNNUS (the American feed of CNN)
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Syfy
  • Tru TV
  • C-Span 2
  • TLC (US)
  • Sky
  • Active Channel
  • CNNIT (the International feed of CNN)
  • ABC
  • USA Network
  • Sky Poker
  • Starz
  • NHK
  • RT2
  • CBX News
  • Fox 13
  • EuroNews
  • CW
  • Pentagon Channel
  • BBC (I don’t know what it is listed twice)
  • Amazing Facts TV
  • NASA TV
  • RT3
  • Kids TV
  • CBN News
  • NBC
  • CBC
  • WSTV
  • CBN
  • CBN (again, don’t know why it is twice)

That’s right…you can watch all those channels (less than optimally) for no charge. If you do upgrade to Pro (which allows previews of the channels, for one thing…and removes the ads), it’s $1.99…a year. Oh, I just tried some channels, and they told me they were unavailable…and while watching a show, I tried the channel thing again and got a lot more choices. As, I say, quirky. :)

On my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB (which is the only one where I’ve tested it), I can turn the device to landscape (wider than it is tall), and it becomes full screen.

It looks pretty sharp, although it may vary by channel. I did try it with the HDMI to my TV, and it was a bit muddier there, but watchable. I haven’t tried to adjust the settings on the TV to go with my 8.9″, so I might be able to make that better.

The interface is pretty simple, although not entirely intuitive. When in doubt, tap the screen to get more choices. It seems like once I start watching a show, I end up exiting the app when I leave it, instead of getting back to channel choices.

I also haven’t played with the settings on the app itself: for example, there is a “Post-processing” choice which is supposed to improve the picture quality, but to also “consume more energy”.

I’m sure this must take some significant battery charge, although I don’t see a huge drop.

It also, of course, requires that you be connected to the internet. I’m sure it would consume a lot of your 4G, if you have that, but on wi-fi, that doesn’t really matter. You aren’t going to be using this when you aren’t connected, by the way…unless you provide wi-fi in the car somehow (maybe from your phone, or some cars can do it), this isn’t going to help on trips.

Hm…I just noticed that you can set up a preview section. You choose channels, and it shows you a still of what is on currently. It doesn’t give you the title, though.

It also lets you add your own channels by putting in a URL (uniform resource locator…web address) for a feed.

If you do decide you want to upgrade, you need to be on the homescreen of the app in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), and then tap More.

Overall, I’d say this is a novelty item at this stage…it’s not going to replace your cable bill (for those of you who still have that…we do). Still, it’s another fun thing to do with your Kindle Fire. :)

One more big thing…it says it is even compatible with the 1st generation Kindle Fire, although I’ve only tested it on the one model.

Is it legal? I’m guessing it is. I’m thinking that this is one of those things where content providers have special off feeds intended for a small audience, and that you can get to them on the internet. I think this app probably just consolidates them in one place, and brings it to a wider audience. They have a screen in the beginning that says that rightsholders can contact them for removal.

If you’ve tried it out and want to give your opinion, or have other questions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: I have now found myself using this…I was watching BBC News while I was writing something. :) A big tip: if you have having trouble getting the app to launch or to open, put your Fire into portrait mode (taller than it is wide). I think the first time you try to open it, it may need you to agree to its EULA (End User License Agreement), and it can’t show it to you in landscape where the shows would be full screen, so it kicks you out. I know that sounds weird, but it seems to work that way.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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17 Responses to “Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Did you purchase the upgrade for $1.99? I wish it was an Amazon Payment, and I would feel safer doing it. Very tempting to try for that price!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Andrea!

      I haven’t purchased the upgrade at this point. I just don’t see myself using it all that much. I might do it at some point, but I do tend to watch my video on demand, in the general sense. Outside of news programming, I rarely watch TV as it is being broadcast.

  2. mary Says:

    I like this app but I don’t like that I don’t have the title of what I am watching or the ability to know say what shows are on at 8pm. Picture quality is very good. For a free app can’t complain.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, mary!

      Well, that’s how it used to be. One of my parents talks about having the opportunity to invest in TV Guide early on, and turning it down, figuring that information was already in the newspaper. :) We didn’t even used to be able to tell what network we were on. Now, you almost always have what’s called a “bug” (a little logo) telling you the channel), and you can hit an “info” button commonly to see what the show is. Yep, this doesn’t have that…you’d have to figure out what is on somewhere else, or play television roulette. :)

  3. oldiesuz Says:

    Thanks for this great recommendation. I installed this on both my Google Nexus and Fire HD. So far it works flawlessly on the Nexus… however having tried several times over the past 8 hours or so I can not get it to load on the Fire. It installed but stops working shortly after it begins to initialize. (I removed and re-downloaded as well). But on the Nexus it has worked consistently, although I haven’t watched a program for more than 10 minutes yet. Just testing it out.

    • bfree2read Says:

      Thanks for mentioning the Nexus. I checked the Google Play Store and downloaded the app to my Nexus 7 tablet. It works and appears to have more channels than the Kindle Fire app version, Curious of what advantage the paid version has over the free version.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, bfree2read!

        The paid version:

        * Doesn’t have ads
        * Supports previews
        * “Better performance, better battery saving”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, oldiesuz!

      Interesting! I didn’t have any problem installing it on my KFHD4G8.9. Did you try restarting your Kindle? Hold the power button in for a full twenty seconds.

      I’m also curious: did you get it for your Nexus (I’m glad it’s working for you there) from the Amazon Appstore?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, oldiesuz!

      Here’s a weird possibility for you. I tried uninstalling it, and ran into a problem with it constantly stopping after reinstalling it.

      However, it appears that it can only be opened the first time with my KFHD in portrait mode (taller than it is wide)! I think that’s because it is the only way it can display the EULA (End User License Agreement) you have to click before you can use it.

      You might want to try that…

  4. oldiesuz Says:

    Hi Bufo,

    Yes that did it! Thank You. I unlocked the screen rotation and it opened right away, Brilliant!

    To answer your question – I grabbed the app for the Nexus from the Google Play store.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, oldiesuz!

      Great!

      Yep, that one was a strange one to solve…which made it fun. :) They should put that on the “splash screen” (“Please start in portrait mode”) although you would only get about a second to see it, from what I was experiencing.

      I think I may write a review just to get that information on the product page…

  5. Round up #138: Xfinity, James Bond bargains « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] I”ve recently written about an app that lets you watch live TV on your Kindle Fire. One tip on that, by the way…if you are having trouble getting it to open, put your Kindle Fire in portrait mode (taller than it is wide). After you pick a channel, you can switch back to landscape.  Well, quite a while back, I had commented on how Xfinity said they were still working on an app for the Kindle Fire. They have (a free) one now, and I can make this simple. If you are already a Comcast subscriber and you have a Kindle Fire, get it. [...]

  6. The Year Ahead: 2013 « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] additional cost” video, and we didn’t. We can watch current TV as it is on using US TV Free, but that’s not the same [...]

  7. Teresa R Davidson Says:

    Thanks for the tip! I sometimes would like to watch TV in bed (the bedroom where I live doesn’t make it conducive to have a set in there)…I am disabled and there are times have to be in bed for periods of time. I just got my Kindle Fire HD recently and was saddened that I wasn’t able to play video of some shows via their website’s video players (unless I had an iPad or full-blown Google product). I have Hulu+, Amazon Instant Video and Netflix (I have Roku for my set in the living room).

    I have gotten hooked, thanks to AIV, on a TV show currently available on the CBC. Recent episodes have to be purchased through AIV (at $1.99 ea.!). They can, however, be viewed on the site. I guess I will have to watch these past ones on my “good”days…unless I can find a good used laptop. :)

  8. Round up #211: | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] did a whole post on watching live TV on your Kindle Fire, and of course, these things get outdated […]

  9. Chris Overturf Says:

    I tried using it but the videos wouldn’t lead. It kept saying the server was unavailable but my Wi-Fi is clearly perfectly fine, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this review xD

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Chris!

      The post on which you’ve commented is more than a year old, so I’m curious: which version of the Fire do you have?

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