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Mobile Apps

NBC adds live streaming to mobile app, with a catch

Yes, you can now watch live shows on the app but only if you live in certain markets.

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You can now live stream shows via NBC's mobile app, if you live in the right market. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

NBC has pushed live streaming to its mobile app, which means you can watch shows as they're being aired -- so long as you meet certain conditions.

The iOS and Android flavors of the NBC app allow you to watch the network's current lineup as well as a selection of older TV series. Some shows are accessible for anyone to view; others require that you be a subscriber of a specific cable service, such as Comcast Xfinity, Optimum, Verizon Fios, or AT&T U-Verse. If you've cut the cord or only have basic cable TV, you're out of luck.

As of Tuesday, the latest change to the app lets you watch shows live. But there's a catch here too, according to Engadget. You can watch shows live if NBC owns your local affiliate station. If it's owned by someone else, then the live streaming won't work for you. Where I live in New York, that's not a problem since NBC does own the local station. But other parts of country, such as Detroit, for example, may not be as fortunate.

Requiring both a cable TV account and a local NBC-affiliate makes NBC's app stricter than that of ABC. The Watch ABC app requires you to sign in with a cable TV account, but you can then access any show. The CBS app doesn't require any cable TV login, but it only offers a small number of episodes of a show for free. If you want more, you'll have to subscribe to the CBS All Access service to the tune of $6 a month.

Beyond the addition of live streaming, the app has also beefed up its on-demand library with such older NBC shows as "The A-Team," "Miami Vice," "Kojak," "Battlestar Galactica," "The Incredible Hulk" and "Knight Rider."

NBC did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.