How to use Single Sign-On to watch pay-TV on your iPad

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Back at WWDC last June Apple announced a major update to Apple TV that leaned heavily on the use of Siri for search in addition to features like Live tune-in and the ability to manage Home Kit accessories. They also revealed a new single sign-on capability that allowed customers in the US to authenticate all the video channels from their pay-TV providers by only having to sign in one time.  After the initial sign-in/on customers will be able to watch all of their compatible network-TV apps without having to re-authenticate each app as long as they didn’t sign out.

The initial roll-out started last fall.  However, the networks participating have been growing at a slower pace than I had originally expected.  I had all but forgot about the new feature, and wondered after originally being excited, if I would ever really use it.  That being said–I decided to go through the process of setting it up and giving it a go.

How Does Single Sign-on Work?

So the idea here is simple–if you have a pay-TV service such as DIRECTV, like me, you will have access to all available content that has a dedicated app that you currently pay for as part of your service.  This is made possible because you are allowing third party apps to access and exchange information with your TV Provider about your TV subscription account.  By doing so you gain automatic access with a Single sign-on because this information is stored on your device.


In addition, if you have iCloud Key Chain enabled as I do, a copy of this info is stored in your iCloud account allowing your account to synchronize all your iOS devices.  For this process to continue you need to remain signed in on your device.  When you sign out you’ll also sign out of all apps that use your account on all your devices that use the same iCloud Keychain.

Setting up Single Sign-on with your iPad

Although the Single Sign-on was/is probably best designed for watching via your Apple TV, you can also use your iPad or iPhone in the same manner.  Setting up your iPad is easy and will allow you to enjoy immediate access to your favorite video channels, and here’s the kicker– if they are included as part of your pay-TV subscription.


To start, open your Settings App and scroll down to TV Provider.  Selecting and signing into this option will give you access to TV shows and movies in apps that are supported as part of your pay-TV subscription.  Once signed in, revisiting this section will give you the option of signing out of your account–I already discussed what happens as a result of that action.  Furthermore, you can also select the Find More Apps tab that will launch the App Store and take you to your pay-TV provider’s app page.


Here you can view/download all apps that are available as a subscriber as long as you are running iOS 10 or later.  That’s a quick and dirty summary of the process. If you can’t find your pay-TV provider, new ones are continually being added to the list.  Any network-TV app can take advantage of Single Sign-on, and hopefully more continue to jump on the band-wagon.

A current list of Single-Sign-on providers is available on Apple’s Website.

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