How to Get Started with Live Channels

Live Channels is Android TV’s “killer app”, seamlessly blending live TV with app-based channels in a singular UI with DVR capabilities coming soon. It represents the new age of media where anyone can become a media mogul just by creating content. The barrier to entry is lower than ever before.

If you have just started using Android TV, you may be wondering how to start using Live Channels. Where’s the app? It may not be on the homescreen. How do you get more channels? All of these things will be explained in this guide.

We’re going to continually refer to our Running List of Live Channel Sources, which we curate with all of the supported apps.

Get some channels

By default, the app does not appear in the launcher. If you don’t have any channels, then there’s nothing to watch. Currently the app does not appear until you install a supported app.

Download an app like Haystack TV. After it is downloaded and installed, you should see the Live Channels app in your app grid.

When you open the app, you’ll be told that there are new sources to be added. Go to the sources screen and tap on Haystack TV. This will open the app’s setup activity where the app will initialize all of their channels.

It's just Live Channels
It’s just Live Channels

If you want to find more apps, you can look at our running list or go directly to the Play Store category from within the app.

Live Channels apps

Now that your channels are setup, you can start to watch linear TV just as expected. Pressing down on your remote decrements a channel, and pressing up increments. You can tap to open a program guide and quickly see what’s playing on every installed channel.

The guide allows for filtering by genre. If you only want to browse channels playing sports programs right now, you can quickly do that.

There are also app links, which can be programmed to open up custom activities set by the app. Usually they will just launch the app’s main activity.

If the channel supports playback controls, they will appear by pressing the center button on the DPAD and then moving up. From here you can skip back, rewind, pause, fast-forward, and skip forward.

Parental Controls

Live Channels Parental Controls

If you have parental controls set up, you can set particular program ratings or channels to be blocked unless they are specifically overriden.

Channel Selection

Live Channels Channel Selection

If there are channels you never watch, you can manually disable them in the settings. They will not appear in your channel guide or by manually flipping through channels.


I/O 2016 DVR Live Channels

Tv Recording is a new API that is available on Android TVs running Android Nougat and above. Apps need to manually support the APIs. The Live Channels app will soon be updated to allow this feature.

It will handle the user interface for recording and send the app lifecycle callbacks (start recording, stop recording). The app will have to handle recording and storing the video in the system database. Then the Live Channels app (or another DVR app) will be able to play this content at a later time.

OTA Tuners

USB Tuner Setup

With Live Channels version 1.11 and Android 7.0, Android TV now supports OTA antennas using certain USB tuners. These allow you to view and record broadcast channels.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub ( Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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