Everything You Need to Know About Single Sign-On on Your Apple TV

What it is and How to Use it

Apple TV
Apple

Apple TV users in the US enjoy the benefit of Single Sign-On on their set top box. Single Sign-On is a feature Apple announced at its Worldwide Developer Conference in 2016 and began rolling it out in the US in December that year.

What is Single Sign-On?

The new feature aims to make life easier for Apple TV users who also subscribe to cable services. It does so by making it much easier for cable channel subscribers to make use of all the apps supported by their pay TV package.

Most US cable channel subscribers can already download and use the Apple TV apps provided by channels they subscribe to with their service but needed to enter their cable channel data in each app. Single Sign-On means subscribers only need to enter this information once on their iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV in order to access all the channels made available through their pay-TV subscription. 

What this means in practice is that someone who subscribes to HBO through their cable provider will be able to use Single Sign-On to automatically log into the HBO Now app on their Apple TV. To save you from wasting time downloading lots of apps only to find out these aren’t supported by/with your cable subscription, Single Sign-On also helps you find which iOS and tvOS apps work with your cable credentials. During the single sign-on process, you get to see a page listing all the authenticated apps your provider offers.

The bad news is that this feature is only supported in the US, the good news is that it is now supported by all the following cable providers and all the information from these apps should be combined within Apple’s TV program guide.

What do I need?

Single Sign-On requires an Apple TV 4 or later running the latest version of the tvOS software.

You also need to be running the up-to-date version of the apps you hope to access.

How Do I Enable Single Sign-On?

To enable Single Sign-On, open the Settings and look for TV Provider. Tap this and select your provider (if listed). You’ll be asked for the username and password associated with your cable account. You’ll only need to enter this once, choose the apps/channels you want to use and you will be all set.  Those apps that are available are listed within the Find More Apps Setting. You’ll also find information about what personal data your PayTV supplier and apps developers can access in the Settings About TV Provider and Privacy section.

You disable the feature by signing out of your account in the TV Provider Settings.

Who supports Single Sign-On?

Apple says that any network TV app can have built-in support for Single Sign-On. Those that do will integrate with the system and thus be more likely to be downloaded and used by cable subscribers with an Apple TV.

Cable channels

On December 5, 2016, Apple added the following networks to Single Sign-On:

  • CenturyLink Prism.
  • Hawaiian Telecom.
  • MetroCast.
  • GTA (available in Guam).

Technologists

  • TV Everywhere supporters Adobe and Synacor both support the feature.

Channels/Apps

  • The number of supporting channels and apps is climbing all the time. Here’s a sample: Lifetime, CNNGo, Watch HGTV, FYI,, NBC, Starz, Disney Channel, FXNow, History, Watch ESPN.

(This list will be regularly updated as new information emerges)

Who doesn’t support Single Sign-On?

At the time of writing neither Comcast (Xfinity) nor Charter/Time Warner supports the new Apple TV feature.

In the case of Comcast détente may be some time away, Variety notes the company didn’t allow subscribers to use HBO Go and Showtime Anytime on Roku devices for several years, until it relented in 2014.

In the case of Time Warner, AT&T’s recent decision to acquire Time Warner offers some hope to subscribers, given that AT&T also owns the Direct TV channel, which does support Single Sign-On. Neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime support this feature at this time – Amazon doesn’t even offer an Apple TV app.

What Are the International Plans?

At the time of writing, Apple has made no announcement regarding any international introduction of the Single Sign-On feature.