Use these Fire TV apps and accessories for free live television and gaming
There are a lot of easy ways you can get free live TV out of an Amazon Fire TV.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a Fire TV (2nd generation) box with a SD card, or an inexpensive Fire Stick. Just add on a few key Fire TV apps and invest in a couple of pieces of hardware, and you can put together a solid alternative to cable. You can get some nice gaming options too. And you’ll stop paying upwards of $150 per month to Spectrum or Comcast.
It’s time to cut cable from your life for good.
Fire TV 2nd generation vs Fire TV 3rd generation
Even though Amazon stopped making the 2nd generation Fire TV, it is still is a great device. I bought the new dongle-shaped Fire TV, and it’s good to have for 4K HDR support.
But if you’re just rocking a TV with 1080p HD, getting a refurbished 2nd generation Fire TV is a solid move. Being able to add storage with an SD card or USB port is a great feature. And having an Ethernet port to ensure smooth streaming is just smart. You can hard wire the new Fire TV, but there’s no SD card or USB port option.
No matter what generation device you’re using, you can use these Fire TV apps and accessories to get the most out of your streaming experience.
Best Amazon Fire TV apps for streaming live TV
This guide isn’t geared towards how to use Kodi. You won’t find instructions on how to jailbreak or root Fire TV, either.
The idea here is to quickly setup a few Fire TV apps and accessories to get the most out of your device without needing much technical prowess. Most of the TV viewing options here are free, but I also mention a few subscription platforms for premium channels like A&E or AMC. This guide isn’t a far cry from a post I did on how to use a PlayStation 3 as a streaming device.
Pluto: Best app for free live TV
Pluto TV offers an original slate of live TV channels that encompass genre-specific interests like documentaries and horror.
CBSN, an online offering by CBS, has around-the-clock news coverage. And less known news outlets like Newsy are on there, too. You might not be able to find your favorite show from AMC, but in many respects, Pluto TV is better than cable because for its wide and diverse variety of programming.
My go-to channel on Pluto TV remains Live Music Replay. It reminds me a lot of what MTV used to be when it started in the early 1980s, and the focus was live music. Pluto TV has dozens of movies on demand as part of an agreement with major movie studios like MGM and Lionsgate. So even without Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can still find something to watch — for free.
Red Bull TV: free sports documentaries, live sports and concerts
The documentaries on Red Bull TV often focus on extreme or more-daring-than average sports like Kiteboarding. But you don’t need a simmering desire to try cliff diving to enjoy the quality programming on here. There’s a real element of travelogue in the stories told on Red Bull TV that makes their shows and sports coverage really compelling.
There’s live sports coverage for the Volcom Pipe Pro in Oahu, Hawaii and the FIA World Rally Championship. I always tune in to Red Bull to check out what kind of music festival is on. Forget about buying tickets to Lollapalooza or the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Red Bull TV is already there.
Watch NBC, CBS and FOX live on Fire TV with HDHomeRun
Get a HDHomeRun tuner and the best TV antenna that you can buy. Then download the HDHomeRun app to your Fire TV or Fire Stick. In return, you’ll get a lineup of major networks like NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS free for the rest of your life.
You’ll also be able to watch these channels on your Fire TV and Fire Stick. Smartphones, PCs and tablets connected to your home network can stream your live TV channels coming in from the antenna as well.
The advantage of using a HDHomeRun is that you’ll have access to over-the-air, digital HD channels without having to leave for Fire TV interface. My review on HDHomeRun Extend explains how to setup the device, and even add a DVR with equipment that you probably already own. SiliconDust, makers of HDHomeRun, offers a subscription DVR service for $35 per year.
Add Plex to Fire TV for streaming movies, free live TV and music
The software hub Plex allows you to tap into all the movies you have ripped to a PC, and watch them on a Fire TV or Fire Stick.
And it’s free.
Let’s say you bought that HDHomeRun that I just mentioned. With a $5 per month subscription to Plex Pass, you can also use it to watch live TV and set up a DVR for your local channels like NBC and FOX. All you will need is a PC or some available hard drive space to set up a Plex Media Server. No more renting a cable box, ever.
Plex has an option where you can skip TV commercials on any programs that you record.
When you begin the setup process, Plex will pull in your music collection so all the media that stored everywhere in your home can be accessed from one place. Plex News offers up some newscasts that you can’t get on your antenna.
Channels app for Fire TV
The Channels app has a more traditional channel guide that looks similar to what’s seen on cable boxes. You can pause, rewind and fast forward live TV. DVR support is expected to be released soon. The Channels was first released on Apple TV, and continues to be very popular for cord cutters. The Channels app for Fire TV costs $24.99 at Amazon, and guide support is $8 per month.
Best cable alternatives on Amazon Fire TV
There are five live TV streaming platforms that have support for Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick. PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, fuboTV, DirecTV Now and Sling TV can bring you channels like AMC and ESPN that were once exclusive to cable. These live TV streaming services also carry local NBC, ABC and CBS networks in many parts of the U.S.
All of these live TV streaming platforms are lower than an average cable bill.
But the real value in many of these services comes with TV Everywhere access. PlayStation Vue has more TVE access than any platform, but the entry-level bundle starts at $40 per month. That’s why an entry-level package of either Sling TV or DirecTV Now is the better deal now. DirecTV Now offers 60+ channels for $35 per month in its smallest bundle. Sling TV will give you 30 channels for $20 per month in the Orange plan.
The DirecTV subscription will give you access to about 40 TV Everywhere apps. So you can easily catch up on The X-Files by watching the FOX NOW app. DirecTV Now doesn’t have Cloud DVR yet, so you’ll want access to those apps.
fuboTV gets you access to 70+ live channels, and has more sports coverage. A subscription is $44.99 per month, but fuboTV has more regional sports networks, entertainment networks like AMC and HGTV and channels you don’t see elsewhere like PAC-12 Networks. fuboTV also has excellent coverage of TV Everywhere apps to more than 30 networks.
CBS All Access is a standalone platform that costs $5.99 per month that gives you on-demand access to more than 7,500 episodes. The platform has also been expanding its original programming with “The Good Fight” and “Star Trek: Discovery”. CBS All Access offers a free trial for a week.
DirecTV Now also has a free 7-day trial, and so does Sling TV and fuboTV. Heck, fuboTV will even throw in Showtime for free as part of its week-long trial. No obligations. No contracts. Just cancel before the trial ends online.
Best Game Controller for Fire Stick or Fire TV
When the 2nd generation Fire TV was released, the gaming version came with a pricey, $50 gamepad. The better way to enjoy the gaming offered on Fire TV is to buy a third-party gamepad.
The Matricom G-Pad BX Wireless Pro Gamepad is one of the best game controllers you can buy for Fire TV or a Fire Stick. It’s rechargeable and operates via Bluetooth. I’ve been using the Matricom G-Pad for more than a year now, and I’ve been really happy with it. There are other gamepads for Fire TV that work well, too.
The G-Pad BX is priced under $20, and can also be used for PC gaming, a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or VR device. Get a Gamepad, and you can start playing some cool free Android games like Badland and Beach Buggy Racing. There are a number of Grand Theft Auto titles you’ll want to get as well.
Best remote control for Fire TV or Fire Stick
Sideclick Remotes are popular because it’s an inexpensive option that adds control to your TV or sound bar.
Don’t want to drop any money on a remote control? Just add the Fire TV remote to your smartphone. The app gives you a virtual model of the Fire TV remote. That includes a microphone for voice commands and a keyboard to punch in usernames and passwords for various apps.
If you already have remote-control apps for your TV and sound bar, then you already have a universal remote at your fingertips. And chances are, you don’t lose your smartphone as often as the remotes in your living room.
Listen to Music on SiriusXM, Pluto TV and TuneIn
Pandora is well known as a go-to for free music on Fire TV and Fire Stick. There are three other free sources for music you should check out right away. Scroll to the bottom of the channels menu on Pluto TV, and you’ll find more than 30 music channels. Channels are named after their genre. There’s Reggae King, Ratpack, and Subindustrial. And there’s a few by decade: 70s, 80s, 90s and Y2K are at the top of the menu.
TuneIn has some of the greatest radio stations from across the U.S. at your fingertips. Count KEXP in Seattle among them. It’s among the few radio stations that’s not corporate owned or cowed to a specific genre of music.
Subscribe to Sirius XM with an option to listen online, you can turn the Fire TV or Fire Stick into a nicer audio hub that has live channels and on-demand concerts and shows.
You may have read about the popularity of Slow TV in countries like Norway. It’s a trend that’s SLOWLY making its way into the U.S.
EarthCam TV has been ahead of the curve with this new style of television. The collection of well-placed outdoor cameras deliver crisp and often refreshing views of cityscapes, lush paradises like Hawaii and sunny coastlines around the globe. My wife and I sometimes leave this running in the background while we’re on the couch working on our laptops, and it’s pretty neat to hear birds chirping half a world away in New Zealand or the rustle of a little breeze picked up by the microphone. The EarthCam TV app is free, and you might be surprised how often you’ll turn it on once you start using it.
What are your favorite Fire TV apps or accessories for the Fire TV or Fire Stick? Tell fellow readers in the comments below.