I'm interested in 'cutting the cord' to digital ("cable") TV service, so I'm exploring the "online" options, such as streaming through my Apple TV (3rd Gen.). I notice that usually when I try to do that, it requires me to visit activate.somewhere.com or otherwise sign in with my TV Provider credentials. What is this all about? And what happens when I don't have a "TV Provider" any more? Will this still work if Verizon (or someone else) still provides only my Internet service? Much thanks.


It's just a place where Apple lets you enter one account and then many apps can use that single sign on to validate you're paying for paid content. This feature is implemented on iOS and tvOS currently.

It's up to each third party app to use the service / API - but in the US this works amazingly well. Many people use it to cut the cord and pay nothing for cable or television packages. You simply pay one of many providers and choose the one you wish to use most and enter it in the OS.

I expect we'll have more news about this within a week (Apple Special Event Live from the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. March 25, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.) and you'll need to read up on your internet provider to see to what degree they implement network neutrality. Some network providers filter / block / charge extra for streaming data - others don't care what bits you download or from where those bits originate. Most providers are somewhere in the middle - throttles and caps, but for most cases you can use this without any added costs or hassle.

  • I think I understand. However, if I'm "cutting the cord" to my "Pay TV Provider,' what is there, then, to log in to? So are we talking about my Internet provider login (which at the moment, happens to also be my TV provider)? Also, this question applies to channels that don't require subscription, but do need "activation." Thanks. – IntelligentDB Mar 24 '19 at 11:38
  • Cutting the cord means you don't have cable TV service as a different provider than internet. Traditional cable means you can't watch at your neighbor or at your coffee shop. The old model is you pay for service at one location over coaxial cable. The new model, is you can use WiFi or ethernet to get your subscription and you can use it anywhere you have internet - not at the location where the cable provides service. – bmike Mar 24 '19 at 12:09
  • Is my comment above really what you're looking to understand? @IntelligentDB – bmike Mar 24 '19 at 12:09
  • I agree with brmike's summary of cutting the cord: it means you are not paying for "cable TV". However, by doing that, you'd better be prepared to pay for a LOT of individual channels, and to lose things that you might watch already (major networks like ABC, etc.), unless you can pull them in with an OTA antenna. But, if you're looking to go remove the cable box and NOT use a traditional TV, you either need to subscribe to a bunch of individual apps/channels, or pay for a cable/TV provider. I reluctantly subscribed to cable after realizing it's cheaper than paying by the show/channel... – jimtut Mar 25 '19 at 14:03

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