How to Download From DirecTV to an iPad
By John Lister
It is not possible to download movies and TV shows from DirecTV to store on your iPad for later viewing. However, you can watch live streaming of some DirecTV channels on your iPad. To do this, you need the free DirecTV app.
DirecTV does not make its programming available to download as video files. This is most likely because different ways of delivering video content require different licenses. DirecTV licenses television channels (which in turn license much of their programming) for live broadcast and, in some cases, video on demand services. Program makers usually maintain download and reproduction rights as separate licenses which are assigned a different deal, such as the rights to sell a show on DVD.
Attempting to produce video files from the broadcasts on your DirecTV receiver and transfer them to your iPad yourself would be a breach of copyright. It is also technically difficult, if not impossible. Such a process would require additional computer equipment to capture the live broadcast, along with a complex conversion process to get the resulting video into a format suitable for iPad. As a result, unless and until DirecTV is able to offer downloads, there is no legal or practical way to download from it to your iPad.
Although downloads are not available from DirecTV, you can watch live programming on your iPad through a free iOS app. When using the app, you must provide valid log-in details for your DirecTV service account; you will also need to have a DirecTV DVR that is connected to the Internet. As of November 2013, the app lets you stream 100 channels when you are in your own home (meaning when you are on the same local network as your DVR). You can stream 31 of these channels from any location over Wi-Fi or cellular data. (Note that you must be subscribed to a channel on TV before you can stream it.) The app also has access to some on-demand programming.
Several services offered by other firms allow you to download television shows (many of which are broadcast on channels available through DirecTV) on your iPad through dedicated apps. Examples include Amazon Instant Video and Apple iTunes (see Resources). Once downloaded, you can watch the shows anywhere without an Internet connection. Pricing, availability and the delay between a show's TV airing and its download availability vary.
A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.