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What to do if your TV has lost access to streaming apps

By Martin Pratt

TVs losing access to apps is a continuing problem. Whether it's BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Spotify or something else, tell us what apps you've lost and help us put pressure on TV manufacturers to stop it happening.

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Almost all the TVs from leading TV manufacturers LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony are smart. That means they can access a range of catch-up and streaming apps, including Amazon Video, Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer and ITV Hub.

The convenience of having live TV and catch-up services on one device with one remote is undeniable, but for years we've received reports of popular apps vanishing from people's TVs. The apps can be gone for days, weeks or months, and sometimes they never return.

In a recent survey of 2,050 people we found that, of the 57% who owned a smart TV, 22% had lost access to one or more apps, sometimes permanently. 

To help us further gauge the scale of the problem and put pressure on manufacturers, retailers and app creators, we want to know if you've encountered this problem. 

Let us know by completing the questionnaire below.

Further down you'll find advice from manufacturers about what to do if you've lost access to any apps, and our advice if their troubleshooting doesn't work.

Not sure if your TV's smart? Learn more about what's special about these TVs and see our pick of the best models in our what is smart TV guide.

 

What do manufacturers advise when apps go AWOL?

A missing app is often beyond your control, and getting it back can be a waiting game. But there are times when some troubleshooting can see your favourite streaming apps safely back on your smart menu.

Samsung TV app solutions 

  • Resetting the smart hub in your TV can sometimes bring apps back from the ether. Press the 'Menu' key on your remote then navigate to 'Smart Hub' followed by 'Smart Hub Reset' and finally 'Reset Smart Hub'. You'll now need to enter your TV's Pin, which will be 0000 if you haven't changed it. On some Samsungs the 'Reset Smart Hub' option is in the 'Self Diagnosis' menu.
  • Try a full reset. If that doesn't work, try a full reset. This will revert your TV to how it was when you first took it our of the box, with the exception of your wi-fi, so you won't need to put in your details again. Once you've accepted the terms and conditions, the apps will be reloaded and this could get the app back. Head to the 'Self Diagnosis' menu and choose 'Reset'. You'll be asked for your Pin again.
  • Last resort: a factory reset. If the app icon still eludes you, a full factory reset is the next step. Samsung recommends calling its customer support team, who will guide you through the process. They can also remotely access your TV to make sure the procedure is done correctly.

LG TV app solutions 

  • Check the internet connection. It may seem obvious, but check to see if your TV can access the internet. If you've lost connection for any reason, you won't be able to use any apps and it could be the reason they've disappeared or fail to respond.
  • Update the firmware. If the internet isn't the issue, try to update your TV's firmware. This is often an automatic process, but not always. Press the 'Home/Start' button on your remote and you'll see the launcher bar. From there, click the 'Settings' icon followed by 'All Settings'. Next, click 'General' and scroll down to 'About This TV' then 'Check For Updates'. If your telly isn't up to date, you'll be able to download the latest software version, which could restore your streaming apps.
  • Reinstall the app. You can try reinstalling the app, although this will only help if you can still see the app icon but can't access it for some reason. Press the 'Home/Start' button and select 'More Apps' from the launcher bar. Find the app that isn't working and click the arrow above the icon. You should see a skull or X symbol, click this and the app will be uninstalled. You can then download it again from the app store.
  • Is your TV's location set right? Believe it or not, if your TV thinks it's in another country then it can prevent apps from working. It's unlikely that this is the reason, but it's worth checking. Bring up that launcher bar by hitting 'Home/Start' on your remote and select the 'Settings' icon. Go to 'All Settings' then 'General' and scroll down to 'location'. You'll be able to enter your postcode here and hit 'Enter' to update your location.
  • Try resetting your TV. If you're still locked out of your app, it's reset time. Bring up the launcher bar with the 'Home/Start' button on the remote and head to 'Settings'. Select 'General' then 'Reset to Initial Settings'. 
  • No joy? Contact customer services, if you haven't already, and they should be able to help.  

Panasonic TV app solutions 

We've reached out to Panasonic to get guidance on what steps to take when apps stop working and we'll update this guide when we hear back.

Sony TV app solutions 

We've reached out to Sony to get guidance on what steps to take when apps stop working and we'll update this guide when we hear back.

What can you do if the apps don't come back? 

Though far from ideal, a TV losing access to an app doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to watch it until you upgrade your set. We've found a few straightforward ways to get your favourite apps on your screen once more.

  • Cast from another device. Casting is where you display an app from a phone or tablet onto a different screen. Many of the mobile versions of streaming and catch-up apps, such as iPlayer and ITV Hub, support casting, and most smart TVs have the necessary software to cast to. Look for the cast symbol (pictured below) on the mobile app, press it and select your TV's model name to begin casting. You can learn more about casting in our guide on getting devices connected to your TV.

 

  • Buy a dedicated streaming device. Another option is to buy a dedicated streaming device that connects to your TV through a HDMI port. The Amazon Fire TV Stick, Now TV Stick and Google Chromecast are some of the most popular, and they support many of the same apps as smart TVs. There are some differences though: the Fire TV Stick doesn't support YouTube for example, while the Chromecast can't access Amazon Prime Video. Check our internet TV box reviews to see what apps they support and which is best.

Details of our survey

We surveyed 2,050 members of the GB general public online in April 2019.

We asked what apps they had lost access to, how many times they had lost access, and how long they had lost access for to gauge the scale of the issue.

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