Frequently Asked Questions

I'm Interested in Channels

What do I need to use Channels?

You probably have most of these already, but to watch live TV, you need:

  • a HDTV antenna or a cable subscription
  • a home network router
  • an HDHomeRun tuner, plugged into your antenna/cable and into the router
  • a 4th-generation Apple TV, plugged into the router or using 802.11ac WiFi
  • a television plugged into your Apple TV
  • a copy of Channels purchased on the tvOS AppStore

What countries are supported?

The app will work in any country where an HDHomeRun is available. Guide data and image availability varies depending on your location and TV provider, but we currently have known coverage for the following countries:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Denmark
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • France
  • Spain

Many other countries in the EU are also supported, but only the countries above have been confirmed by current users. If you’re using Channels and don’t see your country on the list above, let us know!

Is it legal?

Yes! Channels lets you cut the cord and stream free live TV using an HDTV antenna. Local news, sports, award shows, and primetime television are all available for free via over-the-air broadcasts using TV towers in your area. Channels also supports cable channels, but you must have a subscription with your local cable company.

How much does it cost?

Channels for Apple TV is available on the tvOS App Store for $24.99 USD.

Channels for iPhone/iPad is available on the iOS App Store for $14.99 USD.

Do I have to pay monthly?

The Channels app requires only a one-time purchase and can be used on any number of Apple TVs with a single Apple ID or Family Sharing.

For over-the-air broadcasts, no monthly fee is required as local channels are available for free with an HDTV antenna.

For cable television, you will need a cable subscription with a cable provider in your area.

Are you planning on adding DVR features?

Yes. Channels DVR is a separate application service that is availble now in a Public Beta . You can learn more about it here and download it here.

HDHomeRun Questions

Which HDHomeRun models are supported?

Channels supports all HDHomeRun models, including the original single-tuner models from 2008.

Note that the legacy HDHR3-EU is DVB-T only, and cannot pick up HD channels in many countries which have transitioned to DVB-T2.

Which HDHomeRun should I buy?

We recommend either the CONNECT or the PRIME:

If you’re looking for a cheaper investment, you might also consider a used HDHomeRun DUAL.

What is the difference between the HDHomeRun CONNECT and the EXTEND?

Unlike the CONNECT and PRIME which only stream raw mpeg2 HD streams, the EXTEND features a hardware h264 transcoder which can compress video in real-time for lower bandwidth usage.

  • HDHomeRun CONNECT
    • Connects to your network with an ethernet cable.
    • Can stream full HD mpeg2 over ethernet or latest-gen WiFi (802.11ac).
  • HDHomeRun EXTEND
    • Connects to your network with an ethernet cable.
    • Can stream full HD mpeg2 over ethernet or latest-gen WiFi (802.11ac).
    • Can stream compressed HD h264 over legacy WiFi (802.11g).
    • Can stream to low-cpu devices like phones and tablets.
    • Larger physical device.

Note that the h264 transcoder results in a larger and more expensive device (which is otherwise equivalent to the CONNECT).

If you are using a wired network or a latest-generation wireless network over a short distance, we recommend the cheaper CONNECT.

If you are using legacy wifi, or have multiple televisions spread out over a large house, we recommend the EXTEND. You can enable the h264 transcoder via the Settings tab in the Channels app to reduce the bandwidth required between your iOS/tvOS device and your HDHomeRun.

Does Channels support non-HDHomeRun tuners like hardware by Elgato, Ceton, Tablo, etc?

Sorry, the Channels app is exclusive to SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun tuners. SiliconDust offers extensive documentation on the HDHomeRun device and APIs, and actively encourages third-party developers.

Antenna Questions

What stations can I receive with an over-the-air antenna?

The stations you can pick up with an antenna depend on your elevation and the location of the television towers around you. With the right antenna, it should be possible to pick up major networks like FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS in most of the continental US.

In the US, we recommend generating a TV Fool Report. This report will show you how far each tower is from you and the stations carried by each one. A similar report can also be generated via the FCC’s DTV Reception Map.

You can also use mohu’s antenna finder to get recommendations of antennas based on the stations you want to receive.

How is Channels better than just plugging an antenna into my television?

Unlike a traditional television, Channels can:

  • Sort and favorite channels so you can ignore what doesn’t interest you.

  • Show artwork and guide data for what’s currently on TV.

  • Let you watch TV right next to your other apps, without having to fiddle with TV input settings.

  • Switch between audio tracks, so you can listen to programs in your preferred language.

  • Time-shift live TV with a 90 minute buffer.

  • Use a single antenna for all TVs over WiFi, even if the antenna is on the other side of the house.

  • Use VoiceOver for improved accessibility to visually-impaired users.

Channels does all this and more, in a refined and responsive user-interface that’s easy for the whole family to use.

Cable Questions

Can I use Channels with my cable subscription?

Yes! All the HDHomeRun models support unencrypted cable channels (ClearQAM). If your provider encrypts channels (QAM), you can use a HDHomeRun PRIME along with a CableCARD rented from your cable company.

What is the difference between encrypted channels and DRM channels?

There are three types of channels broadcast by US cable companies:

  • ClearQAM: unprotected basic cable channels
  • QAM: encrypted cable channels
  • DRM: encrypted channels with copy protection

Note that although many cable providers still broadcast their basic tier in unencrypted ClearQAM, some companies (notably Comcast) have started encrypting all their channels as QAM.

Encrypted (QAM) channels require a HDHomeRun PRIME with a CableCARD. DRM channels are not yet supported in the app.

Does Channels support DRM protected cable channels?

DRM channels are not currently supported. We are working on DTCP-IP certification and plan to support DRM channels in the future.

DRM, or copy-once, is generally only enabled on premium content channels like Showtime and HBO. However, some cable providers are known to DRM their entirely lineup (notabily TWC, but only in some regions). As of mid-2015, Verizon FIOS has enabled DRM on FOX affiliate channels like Fox News and Fox Sports.

To see which of your channels are laced with DRM:

  • visit my.hdhomerun.com
  • click on your PRIME
  • click on “Channel Lineup”
  • look for any channels with the DRM badge.

If you are interested in DRM support, fill out this brief survey and read more on our community site.

How do I activate my CableCARD?

When renting a CableCARD from your cable provider, you can ask that it be pre-paired with your account. CableCARDs are most commonly used by TiVo users, so you may want to mention that if your cable support representative does not understand what you are looking for. The FCC mandates that CableCARDs be made available to customers for a nominal fee.

If you receive a CableCARD that has not been paired, you may need to contact your cable company to provide them with the serial number associated with the card to activate it.

To look up the CableCARD information:

  • visit my.hdhomerun.com
  • click on your PRIME
  • click “CableCARD Menu”
  • click “CableCARD Pairing”
  • call the phone number listed on the page
  • provide your cable support representative with the numbers listed on the page

I Bought Channels

How do I add my HDHomeRun to Channels?

When you launch Channels, it will automatically detect all the HDHomeRun devices on your local network.

If no devices are found, make sure your HDHomeRun is turned on and plugged into your home router. After plugging it in, click the “Scan for Devices” button to search the network again.

How do I use the app?

Here’s some protips on how to get the most out of Channels.

  • Pick your favorite channels by clicking on them in the Settings tab.
  • Switch to the Favorites tab and browse what’s on.
  • Sort your Favorites by click and holding a channel and moving it to the desired position.
  • Click on a channel to start playing it.
  • Live TV buffer works for ~90 mins or less depending on how much storage is available on your device.
  • Skip ahead 30s by clicking the right side of the Touch surface. Skip back 7s by doing the inverse.
  • Double-click the remote to switch back to the previous channel.
  • Tap to reveal the timeline, then scrub through the buffer with the Touch surface.
  • Swipe down to bring the Quick Guide to see what else is on your favorite channels.
  • Change tabs while in the Quick Guide to toggle closed captioning or adjust audio languages.

How do I enable surround sound?

Channels supports full 5.1 surround sound automatically. If you’re not hearing surround sound, check your ATV settings:

  • In “Settings” on your Apple TV
    • Under “Audio and Video”
      • Set “Surround Sound” to “Dolby Digital” or “Auto”

I'm having issues with audio or video playback. What can I do?

The audio or video stream coming from the HDHomeRun is a raw HD format and is generally 2-3x larger than what streams from Netflix, Hulu, or your home videos.

For optimal performance, keep both your HDHomeRun and Apple TV direcly wired to your home router with an ethernet cable. If you must use WiFi, make sure your WiFi router supports a high-bandwidth specification like 802.11n or 802.11ac.

Guide Data

Where does the guide data come from?

The app uses two different providers for EPG data. The provider chosen depends on your HDHomeRun model and your location.

  • SiliconDust (same as HDHomeRun VIEW app)
    • USA, UK and Australia
    • HDHomeRun CONNECT or HDHomeRun PRIME (w/ cable card only)
  • Gracenote
    • USA ClearQAM, international DVB-T
    • HDHomeRun DUAL and other legacy tuners

When the app is using Gracenote for data, the “Powered by Gracenote” logo will appear on the Settings tab.

If you experience problems with SiliconDust’s EPG data, report it to them here.

My guide data is missing or incorrect. What can I do?

Note that guide data is limited in some areas and not all channels will have logos and images. However, if none of your channels are showing guide data it usually indicates some sort of misconfiguration.

Contact us for help, via email. Please include the following information:

  • Device information
    • HDHomeRun model name
    • HDHomeRun firmware version
    • Antenna or Cable
    • EPG Provider (check if the gracenote logo is displayed on Settings tab)
  • Location
    • Country
    • Region
    • ZipCode
  • TV Provider
    • Cable company
    • Subscription type (basic/premium)
  • Lineup information
    • Some examples of channel numbers/names that are missing information
  • App information
    • Channels version
    • Screenshot of what you’re seeing

General

I love Channels! How can I support its development?

Tell your friends and send us feedback on any and all bugs and feature requests.

How can I spread the word about Channels?

Tell your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, and rate us on the AppStore!

Can I try Channels before I buy it?

Unfortunately Apple does not provide a way to offer trials via the App Store. We’re confident you will love using Channels on your Apple TV, but if there are any problems you can request a prompt refund directly from Apple.

Where can I send feature requests?

We’d love to hear your feedback. Send us an email or message us on twitter.

This app just isn't for me. Can I get a refund?

Sure, you can request a refund directly from Apple. For more information, see this iMore article.