Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues

Streaming movies from iTunes to Apple TV should be a pleasant experience if you have a decent internet connection. But often Apple TV takes forever to load movies from iTunes. When buffering and long load times get in the way, the experience becomes frustrating.

Apple TV streaming issues can have various root causes. In this post, I’ll walk you through the most common streaming problems and tech you steps on how to fix themIf you are having issues with screen mirroring via AirPlay, check out this article.

Apple TV Buffering Problems

I have dealt with video streaming issues on Apple TV for the past few years. The cause of most of those problems was one of the following:

Apple TV Connected to Wrong Base Station

If you have hooked up your Apple TV to the Internet via your Wi-Fi network and if you have multiple base stations in your home, make sure you connect the Apple TV to the nearest base station.

As I have explained in my post about roaming between base stations, every time you reboot a base station that is closest to the Apple TV, it will try to connect to another base station in range. Once the original base station comes back online, your device will likely stay connected to that base station with the weaker signal strength.

Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues

To confirm that is not the case, just open AirPort Utility and click on the base station closest to the Apple TV. Under “wireless clients” you should see your Apple TV. If the Apple TV is not connected to the nearest base station, reboot the Apple TV to force it to reconnect to the base station with the strongest signal.

To rule out that your Apple TV’s download speed is related to your Wi-Fi network (bad coverage), I recommend to unplug and disconnect every device (including any mobile device) from your access point and modem, and then connect your Apple TV directly to your router or modem via an Ethernet cable.

Then test individual video apps one-by-one. For example, check the YouTube TV app, Netflix and iTunes to narrow down the issue.

At least I’m not loosing the Apple TV remote anymore, thanks to this neat case from Flösku.

Congested Internet Connection

A slow or congested Internet connection could also cause streaming issues. Just this past weekend, streaming was very slow on our Apple TV, resulting in a bad picture quality and constant buffering. I found the culprit to be my iPhone, which was trying to upload a 7GB video, I recorded an hour before, to iCloud.

Neither iOS nor OS X does a good job of managing bandwidth when it comes to synchronizing with iCloud Photo Library. I have written about that problem already in September of last year, and Apple still hasn’t resolved the issue.

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I forced my iPhone to pause the synchronization process by temporarily disabling WLAN, and the streaming issues disappeared. To quickly check if your internet connection is the culprit, just run a speed test from a device that is near and connected to an AirPort base station. If you see high ping times and slow download/upload speeds, you can narrow down the problem to one of two reasons:

  • Your internet service provider is having issues
  • A device, app or service in your network is consuming all available bandwidth

If your uplink is the issue, try rebooting the modem and if that doesn’t help, call your ISP. If a device causes the problem on your network, just disable WLAN on all devices and then bring them back online one by one to see which one is causing the issue.

IPv6 Configuration

Years ago, many ISPs started enabling IPv6 when it became apparent that we were running out of available IPv4 address space.

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet. IPv6 was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to deal with the long-anticipated problem of IPv4 address exhaustion. IPv6 is intended to replace IPv4.

Apple has long supported IPv6 in its software, but the chances are that it hasn’t affected you so far. You can check if your Mac uses IPv6 by going to System Preferences —> Network.

Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues
System Preferences: Network

On the AirPort base station, you can find the IPv6 settings under Internet —> Internet Options

Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues
AirPort Utility

If the IPv6 configuration on your base station is set to “Automatically,” make sure that “Enable IPv6 Connection Sharing” is not checked. According to Apple, enabling connection sharing for IPv6 could cause issues with incompatible IPv6 implementations and configurations of your ISP.

The result of those compatibility issues could be connection problems, which may affect streaming. I use Comcast, and according to Apple, they’re doing a decent job with IPv6 but other ISPs may not.

Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues
AirPort Utility: Internet Options

If your IPv6 configuration is set to “Link-local only,” you won’t even see “Enable IPv6 Connection Sharing” as an option. In that case, don’t worry about it.

iCloud/iTunes Backend

If you cannot pinpoint the problem with your internet connection or network infrastructure, your streaming content provider is likely the culprit. In my case, that is Apple and its iCloud/iTunes infrastructure.

I have had a few occasions where streaming Netflix and the YouTube TV app worked flawlessly on the Apple TV, but streaming movies from iTunes (Apple content) didn’t. Instead, Apple TV would buffer every couple of minutes, making watching movies a stuttering and frustrating experience.

Conclusion: Apple TV Streaming Issues

Unfortunately, if Apple is the cause of your streaming problems, there isn’t much you can do to resolve the issue, other than waiting for Apple to fix it. In the past few months, Apple has made improvements to its infrastructure. As a result, streaming issues have become less. If you WiFi is spotty, I highly recommend looking into mesh networking technology, such as the one I have reviewed.

Have you had streaming issues with Apple TV? If so, what caused the problem and how did you resolve it? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

40 thoughts on “Troubleshooting Apple TV streaming issues”

  1. Our network seems just fine using smartcast on our VISIO TV, that includes HULU Netflicks, MLB and more. But just lately if we use the Apple-TV 4K HDMI input we are seeing lots of pause in the streams, from all the above and iTunes also, bad sync mouth to sound .Mostly the streaming stops for a few seconds then restarts or we have to pause and restart using the controller. We Just bought the APPLE-TV 4k less than a year ago. For a long time the APPLE-TV 4K was fine, now not so much I think since the last upgrade. Perhaps return it and get another one?

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  2. I’d been experiencing weird buffering kind of issues with my Apple TV 4K for quite a long time. It would sometimes stop in the middle of a show (whether on Netflix or through Home Sharing) and just give a buffering wheel with no actual buffering occurring. Sometimes it would do that right off the bat when I’d try to put something on. I came across this page, and decided to try turning off IPV6 Connection Sharing on my Airport Time Capsule. It’s been working ever since. Thank you!

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  3. I have an apple tv 2nd generation that I use mainly for streaming apple tv radio, and the occasional movie rental. I recently added a Fire tv 4k to my configuration, and have a Samsung SmartThings hub+devices on my WiFi network. I also recently changed ISP from Spectrum to Frontier, and this is when problems started: Specifically, Apple tv radio errors out (I assume due to a transient connectivity issue) and I have to re-start the radio station stream. This seems to happen in approximately 20-30 minute intervals. I have no issues streaming movies on the Apple tv. I have 100gb speed and a very strong WiFi signal in the room where Apple tv is installed. I am stumped.

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  4. I have a different(?) problem. I have a large library of music recorded into iTunes on my Mac. Recently got a Samsung 4K TV, a Sonos sound system and an Apple TV 4K; using an AirPort Extreme. From the first have had problems using the Apple TV to play music that’s on the Mac. Tried hard wiring the Mac and the ATV to the Airport, but this didn’t help. Symptoms: sometimes it takes a long time to connect to the Mac, sometimes it stops playing in the middle of a track, sometimes it loses connection when I change tracks.
    On previous setup using same Mac and Airport, things usually worked fine, listening to music, watching slideshows from Photos, or doing both at the same time.
    Has any else had these issues?

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  5. I have a new ATV 4K and have the same issues with live streaming. But, I have mine connected directly by Ethernet cable to the ATV and HDMI to the TV (Visio). I have FO internet service with >100 Mbps speed. I have a Netgear Black Hawk R7000 router (I think it is) I have another V4 ATV that does the same thing and id also hard wired to the network. If I just move to another channel and then back it unfreezes which is faster than unplugging or Restarting. I thought Apple was better than this, especially with the prices they charge. All of Apple Fan friends and family thing Apple walks on water. If it doesn’t get it’s act together it will be under water with me.

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  6. This goes out to everyone whom should have the speeds capable of streaming, and can do so on other wireless devices but not your Apple TVs. This is mostly directed towards people whom are in dense areas full of wireless networks, though it also helped all around for my wireless speeds on ATV.

    If you have a modem/router that supports dual band (usually is always enabled by default and most people dont bother looking in their router settings) frequencies. You’ll see your network in the wifi list, and you should also see one below it that says the same thing but with “5g” at the end of it. Switch your ATVs over to the 5G network instead of the one you normally use. At the very least it worked for me, massively.

    The logic behind this is that with dual band routers, you have access to a 2.5 ghz network as well as a 5ghz network. The 5ghz network has a higher potential output and normally out performs the 2.5ghz. That is UNLESS you have a massive house and the router is really really far away. However the main reason I say to try switching is that naturally if your in a dense area, there is going to be A LOT of traffic on the 2.5ghz network. This biggest advantage is the 5ghz network being a lot less crowded.

    I’m 99% sure this will fix the issue for almost all of the people in this thread or that see this. Though a lot of the posts are old, I saw some 2018 replies and figured I’d put this out there if anyone is still having issues. Good luck!

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  7. I’ve been watching tv and movies on my Apple TV from Amazon Prime and Netflix for several years and suddenly only when streaming Amazon Prime, my tv just shuts off constantly every few seconds! No such problem with Netflix. I’ve changed nothing in my set up so have no idea why this is happening.

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  8. I have a 4th generation Apple TV and a Sony smart tv. The Apple TV works fine except with streaming Amazon and Netflix. Those two stream fine for a night then, the next night the audio works, and the closed caption text works but there is no video at all. I get a message that I need purchase an adequate HDMI cable. However if I unplug the Apple TV from power and replug it, then it works just fine with both, Netflix and Amazon. It’s annoying to have to reset the Apple TV nightly when it should work seamlessly with remote control. Apple is so fantastic (I have had Apple products for 20 years) I’m very disappointed with this. I have tried adjusting the video and settings on the Sony and tried other things with settings with the ATV and nothing has helped.

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  9. My internet is provided via satellite (25 Mps service) and during the day Netflix streams well on my 2nd gen Apple TV but during prime time it is not watchable – it takes 10 minutes just to move through the menu to select a program and then it won’t play. I have assumed the IP is throttling Netflix during prime hours. However, sometimes during primetime I can watch on my computer without a problem when the Apple TV isn’t able to stream. I have tested the AppleTV at other locations with different IPs and it is flawless. So the question is, why would streaming work on a laptop but not AppleTV when the internet speed is slow? Thanks

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    • Hi Jill,

      If you have your Apple TV connected wirelessly, you may suffer from a weak signal or interference. Have you tried connecting the Apple TV via Ethernet to see if the problem persists?

      Reply
  10. I have issues with live streaming. It buffers and then loses wifi connection. Restarting only helps once an awhile … while all other devices (2 iphones, ipad and 2 pcs) remain unaffected. Will take it in for Apple to look at but will take 2-3 weeks to get back, since I have paid monthly subscriptions this sucks. I never had connection problem with my ATV2 though.

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  11. Have an Apple TV 4th generation, wireless to my router, AT&T fiber connection at 300 mbps, but still get buffering on Netflix and PlayStation Vue among others. Any suggestions from anyone?

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  12. My Apple TV 4th generation sometimes does crazy things with my streaming of Live TV of channels such as CNNGo, FoxNewsGo, and CNBC such as backing up and replaying a stream, buffering quite a bit, freezing video while audio continues, saying it has an error, etc. I use a Time Capsule AC which is line of site to my Apple TV about 10 feet apart. The same streams come through perfectly to my Mac computer (which is closer) and other devices. Although I don’t seem to be using iPv 6 at all, I just unchecked connection sharing, just in case. I am surrounded by lots of other wireless networks (live in a big condo complex), but set it up to only connect to mine (just even disabled my Guest Network), and it always shows a strong signal. Anyway, I’ll see if this continues (all has been OK this morning, so perhaps it could be tied to heavy internet usage on my ISP), although my gut says that with the repeating of stuff, it’s probably the Apple TV that’s the problem.

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    • Curious if that solve it. I’m experiencing the same challenge. Definitely isolated to live streaming on living room and master bedroom AT4G units. Seem to be able to stream on other devices except the TV. Wondering if that “ update “ a few months back made it worse. Frustrating to watch even live football :(

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      • Jody, No, I still have the problem. I asked at the Apple Store, and they said to just restart the Time Capsule and/or Apple TV occasionally, but that didn’t help. I’m now wondering if using an Apple TV 4K might help, although I don’t want to buy one if I’m not sure that it will fix this.

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        • Thanks Larry. Boy hate to think the only way to correct the situation is to buy/ switch to Apple TV 4K ? additionally, would have to make sure TV technology was compatable with 4K

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  13. I have had problems with the AppleTv on all sources I use: Netflix, YouTube and iTunes. I use a cable to connect it directly to my router. At the same time I have no issues using any of my laptops. Clearly it is the Apple TV that is at fault

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  14. Hi Michael hopefully you can give me a hand with this.
    I´ve been having buffering issues with my itunes video content on both my 3rd generation and 4k apple tv.
    The rest of the apps seem to be working fine (netflix, prime video, youtube) no lag on loading 4k and hd content. but when I play any itunes movie it would take forever and when it gets loaded it just looks blurred.
    Apple support couldn’t do anything but to blame my IPS, but my upload and download speeds are over 100mbps.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks on advance

    Reply
    • Hi Frank!

      I would do the following to narrow down the issue:

      – Connect Apple TV via Ethernet to your router
      – Disconnect all other devices from your router/WLAN

      If that doesn’t change anything (or if you already tried that), try to disable IPv6 on your router and modem. I have seen issues with that in combination with Apple TV.

      If that doesn’t change anything, try to watch an iTunes video from your iOS device or Mac. Same issue?

      Reply
  15. Please contact me via email at your convenience. Thank you. Since last update around late September 2017, I’ve been having issues. When finishing a movie then going to next movie, a long delay occurs with the spinning circle then movie icon pops up. When I hit play an error pops up, “an error occurred loading this content”. I have never experienced this before the last update and have had excellent performance from my Apple TV’s in the past. I have (3) Apple TVs and all have same problem since update. I’ve restarted and tried numerous adjustments to no avail. All my Apple TVs are hard wired, no WiFi. My internet provider is 100 mbps. All Apple TVs were brought brand new at release, (Apple Tv 4th generation, purchased in 2015). Pretty frustrated and would appreciate any help.

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    • I am in a similar situation as you yole velo. Wifi or wired. No difference. Since the late September update my YouTube streaming is terrible on my Apple TV 4th Gen. Always had perfect crystal clear and fast loading. Now I can barely watch a single video. I hope they make a patch for it soon. I have tried everything under the sun to fix it. It’s like we are back in 2012 with the origional Apple TV streaming issues.

      Reply
  16. Hi Michael wondering if you can help please?

    I watch Netflix using Apple TV. Recently some programmes will play but there is no audio..?.the content is fine on my smart TVs downstairs but I cannot continue watching it on my apple device upstairs?

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    • Hi Fran,

      I have never heard about that issue, but if in doubt, restart your Apple TV and see if that resolves the issue – especially if this happens intermittently and/or only some programs are affected.

      Reply
  17. This may be a completely different issue. I have apple TV A1469 and solid internet and wireless connection – I’ve reset everything, modem, Apple TV, Vizio TV… I can stream iTunes and Netflix no problem. When I now (used to work until several weeks ago) PBS – I can get the ‘ads’ and the first 2-3 minutes of a show – then it shuts down and in the process turns off my TV? Any suggestions?

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  18. Nowadays you just have to be on the same network to be able to stream from your iTunes library to your Apple TV. However, when I tried to watch an episode of Monk on my ATV4 I cold only watch for about four minutes before it started buffering and my Bluetooth headset began to stutter. This is how I solved it:

    Go to your iTunes preferences and turn on “share this library…” under the tab “sharing”. I even checked the password option and set a password just for laughs. When I returned to the ATV and tried again all went smooth like butter and my headset didn’t stutter. When I started to watch the next episode it didn’t even buffer at the beginning, it just played. I don’t know why this worked but it did. Hope this helps.

    Cheers from Sweden.

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    • We missed a few episodes of our favorite show so we went to the TNT web site to watch the episodes we missed. We found that trying to download anything using Firefox would never work. It was just an endless buffering pinwheel trying to play it. Switched to Safari and we had no issues at all.

      Reply
  19. My apple TV is hooked up to my main TV with WiFi connection to a router provided by our cable company. I mainly use it for viewing home videos. I have noticed that the more videos I load, the slower the loading gets. My cable company suggested I disconnect and then reconnect the router which did in fact speed up the loading such that I can view the video immediately without interruption. I wish there was a better solution

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  20. So frustrating! Streaming HBO hangs up every few minutes for several minutes at a time. Reboot, shutting down every other de vice on the network don’t make a differnce. May have to switch to roku.

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  21. I Just purchased Apple TV 4 and the load times for the picture icons with summary is very slow. The Apple TV 3 was quick! Not sure if Apple has a fix for this slow streaming issue, but I would think so if they don’t want to lose customers.

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  22. What about not being able to stream Better Call Saul on Apple Tv after a week of getting ‘error in accsessing content’ or ‘content not available’ Try again later.’ Is this just because the show’s so popular? Seems weird that it does this at any hour and we’ve gotten other things on Apple TV

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  23. I got one acronym “DMZ”. DMZ your AppleTV on your router (Or use the Default Host option on your Airport Router)

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    • Hi Gerald,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m familiar with the concept of a DMZ but could you elaborate what improvements you noticed by placing the Apple TV into a DMZ and why you think that is?

      Cheers
      Michael

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      • To fully explain: A DMZ is a section of your network that is exposed to the Internet yet is not connected with the rest of your internal network. Normally, you wouldn’t place any computer or device in the DMZ for the simple reason that someone could hack that computer/device, thereby gaining access to your internal network. However with streaming devices like the AppleTV as well as gaming consoles, the worry is that the router’s firewall is blocking some Internet traffic. Placing an AppleTV in a DMZ means that your router will not block that traffic and thus, would help to resolve some streaming issues. Also, give your AppleTV a static IP address if you can. It keeps other computers/devices on the network from trying to ‘steal’ the IP and its partically good if your AppleTV is wirelessly connected to your router and it too improves the streaming realizability. You can set a DHCP reservation in the Network Tab of your AirPort Utility.

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      • Oh, I’ve forgotten one thing: In reference to setting up a AppleTV in a DMZ and reserving a static IP address: Always check both your router and modem as to which one of these is running the DHCP server before you setup either. The reason for this sometimes a cable or dsl modems has a switch to turn off bridge mode while others do not, hence one should check the modem’s settings before doing anything.

        Reply

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