Can You Stream Live TV With a Hotspot? Yes, But Be Careful

So you want to stream live TV but don’t have an active internet connection yet.  I’ve been asked if it’s possible to stream TV from a hotspot using mobile data.

I’ll share my answer here. Cord cutters will like this article!

Can You Stream Live TV with a Hotspot?

watch tv with a hotspot

You can stream live TV with a hotspot. Connect your smart TV to the hotspot and open a live TV streaming app such as Hulu  + Live TV, YouTube TV, or Sling TV app.

There are lots of live TV streaming apps that only require an internet connection. No cable subscription is needed.

If you’re planning to go down this route, there are a few pointers you want to keep in mind.

How to Stream Live TV with a Hotspot

Connect Your Smart TV to Your Hotspot

Unlock your phone and enable the mobile hotspot.

Next, open your TV settings, and under network settings, you should find an option to connect to a Wi-fi network. Locate your phone’s hotspot from the list and connect to it.

If you don’t have a smart TV that can connect to Wi-fi, I recommend buying a streaming stick such as a Chromecast or Roku.

Read my guides on how to connect Chromecast or Roku to a hotspot.

Streaming sticks are the easiest way to add smart functions to a TV and most streaming sticks support live TV apps.

Chromecast with Google TV is my personal favorite. Read my Chromecast review here or go buy one. 

Open a Live TV Streaming App on Your TV

There may be local options available to you. Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and Sling TV are the most popular.

Once your TV is connected to the internet, any live TV streaming app that requires an internet connection should work.

However, the performance will depend on the speed of your mobile data.

Of course, you can also use these apps on any other device, such as a computer or tablet.

Downsides to Using a Hotspot for Live TV

While you can stream TV with a hotspot, it’s not the best long-term solution for reasons I’ll get into below.

Mobile Data Caps

Unless you have an unlimited mobile data plan, I wouldn’t recommend using your hotspot to stream TV.

Streaming media, especially in full HD, can quickly consume all of your mobile data.

After a couple of hours, you can easily consume all of your mobile data for the month leading to surcharges. Nobody wants a surprise phone bill.

Certain phones have the option to warn you when you consume too much mobile data.

If you don’t have unlimited data, I recommend keeping a close eye on your mobile data usage when using your hotspot.

Unreliable Speed

Depending on your location, your phone might not have a good signal to a cellphone tower, resulting in slow internet speeds.

A slow cellular connection means your hotspot will be slow too, and live-streaming TV may be choppy. Check the bars in the top corner of your phone to see how strong the mobile network is.

If your mobile data is slow, you’ll probably run into buffering issues when streaming TV with a hotspot.

Limited Quality

When your mobile internet speed slows down, the apps will reduce the quality of the stream.

You probably won’t be able to get a reliable full HD streaming service.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of apps for live TV that you can watch with a hotspot.

However, it may not be the best idea because hotspots consume a lot of mobile data and aren’t very reliable.

It would be better to connect your TV to the internet using an ethernet cable. It will provide the fastest and most reliable internet connection.

Still, in a pinch, if you really want to stream something – you can use a hotspot to stream TV!


  • Timothy Gagnon is the owner of My Portable Office. As a kid, he's always had a fascination with electronics and never passed on the chance to disassemble and reassemble them. When he's not taking a hammer to his electronics, he can be found playing with his cats or writing about his latest discoveries on My Portable Office.