When iTunes lets you down

How to watch The Interview on Apple TV, Roku, iPad and iPhone

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The Interview got a surprise online release Wednesday just in time for the holidays — but watching it on the device of your choice can be a challenge. Case in point: Google is releasing it for rent and purchase on both YouTube and Play in the U.S., but Apple is sitting on the sidelines, leaving Apple TV and iPad owners wondering what to do. And Microsoft is streaming it on its Xbox console — but how can you watch it on Roku’s streaming boxes?

For answers, check our guide below:

Apple TV

(Note: Five days after Sony began allowing online sales of The Interview, Apple agreed to offer the movie over iTunes. It is now available for rent and purchase on Apple TV.)

There doesn’t seem to be any way of buying or renting the film directly on Apple TV (if you’ve found a way, please let us know in the comments), but you can purchase it on YouTube Movies on the web from a PC or Mac and then stream it to your Apple TV, though you may have to go through a few configuration steps.

  • First, make sure that you have the right version of the YouTube app available to you. Only third-generation Apple TVs have the new YouTube app, which offers access to paid content. You won’t be able to access YouTube rentals if you have a first- or second-generation device. If you are unsure, check how the YouTube app looks like on your Apple TV, and compare it to the screenshots on this page.
  • If your Apple TV YouTube app isn’t linked to your YouTube or Google accounts, you’ll have to manually connect them by going into the sign-in option in the settings tab. You’ll get an 8-digit code, which you then enter on YouTube’s activation page. Your YouTube preferences should now show up in Apple TV.
  • You have to purchase or rent the movie from the YouTube or Google Play. If you’ve never bought anything from Google Play or YouTube before you’ll have to enter your credit card info, but if you already have a Google Wallet account, you’re set.
  • Now go to the Apple TV app, go to the MyYouTube tab, and then scroll down to the purchases section. Your movie should be right there.

iPhone and iPad

The process is much easier on iOS devices as long as you have the YouTube app or Google Play Movies & TV app. As with Apple TV you can’t buy The Interview directly from either app, but if you purchase it on the web from either Google Play or YouTube, you’ll find it available on either iOS app once logged in with your Google ID (In YouTube, you’ll see it under the purchases tab).


Roku owners can access the movie through the YouTube app, provided they have one of the current-generation Roku models that actually carries that app (check here for a complete list). As with Apple TV, you’ll have to rent or buy the movie online first, then make sure to link your accounts to sign in to the YouTube app on Roku. After that, your purchases and rentals should show up in the purchases section. Alternatively, you can also use the new Google Play Movies app on Roku.

This post was updated at 4:05pm with more information on accessing paid YouTube rentals on Apple TV.

Janko Roettgers contributed to this post.

101 Responses to “How to watch The Interview on Apple TV, Roku, iPad and iPhone”

  1. I also purchaed it via my google play account to watch it on my fire tv. It plays on my phone from my youtube account however it will not play on my tv. This is very frustrating!!

  2. Paid to rent it from Youtube. Can’t play it on my gen 2 Apple tv. Cannot AirPlay it from my ipad to my Apple TV. Cannot get it to play on my Amazon Fire Stick using the Youtube app, even though it appears under Purchases. It just sits and spins. Too bad Apple or Amazon didn’t offer this because then it probably would have worked.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Yep, if you just want to rent it on a PC and watch in your browser, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all. It will start streaming as soon as you hit purchase.

  3. I have it on my Apple TV but every time I click it says sorry there was an error processing request. This video may be inappropriate for somewhere. My age seems verified and there is nothung clickable to proceed. Please

  4. Google, you dropped the ball here, or maybe Samsung. An opportunity to show new movies in home (do you know how successful/profitable this could be?!), and how do you treat this new experience? With headaches. So we purchased the movie from google play. Supposed to work with your YouTube account. Yet our Samsung smart TV refuses. So what are we forced to do (after an hour of messing around), plug the “smart” tv into the laptop….

    Soooo why did we buy a smarttv??? And why dosent google have its own player app for the TV?? Why are we relying on a laggy youtube app?? You guys seriously messed up this opportunity. Guess we’ll go to the theater in the future for the same price, less annoyance, & wayyyy better popcorn. Could have been an amazing new industry! Fail.so.hard.

  5. I have already seen it on my Apple TV. And yes, I have a third generation Apple device. The movie itself is just an average comedy. But the hype really helped to put a new angle on the whole movie. Now it seemed more fun. Good strategy Hollywood.

  6. Tyson Liebrecht

    Easy, as long as you have the current, 3rd generation AppleTV.

    Chances are most people already have the YouTube app setup like I did. So all you have to do is go buy it on the website, and boom, seconds later it shows up in the YouTube app.


  7. If you are having problems with Youtube on your Roku download the Google Play Movies & TV App- it works just fine there as long as you have signed in to the Google Account you purchased the movie with and have your age set to old enough. Good luck!

  8. i just bought the movie via youtube on my computer which i have synced to my brand new samsung smart tv, but when i try to watch the movie it says “sorry, there was an error licensing this video” wtf?

  9. I rented the movie on youtube, but when I go to play it on my Amazon Fire TV, I see the Purchases section, but when I click on it, it just buffers consistently. Not getting any picture, sound, or time estimation.

  10. For anyone who’s been having problems with getting this to work on Apple TV: We confirmed with Apple that the new YouTube app is only available on third-generation Apple TV devices, which wasn’t mentioned when the app launched earlier this month. Sorry for any confusion.

    • Tyson Frost

      I’ve purchased in through youtube on my computer and have a generation 3 Youtube app but when I press play it gives me “Sorry, there was an error processing your request””This video may be inappropriate for some users”
      I’ve gone through the settings and don’t have the Safety mode on, is there anything else i can try. It specifically said on the website before purchase that it works on apple TV and is set up how you said too so what didn’t I do?

  11. I couldn’t do it on the Apple TV — for some reason I have an old YouTube app and no updates available. Could it be because of the older AppleTV box (the one with 720p)? Anyway, I was successful in doing the same on the Visio smart TV — pairing it to YT and seeing purchased movie there.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Bob, I stated pretty clearly in the first sentence of the Apple TV section that “There doesn’t seem to be any way of buying or renting the film directly on Apple TV.” I’m not sure how much clearer I can be, though I get your frustration.

      You have to buy the movie from YouTube Movies or Google Play online, but just in case there’s some confusion I did add some verbiage to clarify you have to access those services from a browser in your Mac or PC.

      • Kevin,

        I purchased the movie via my computer through youtube. I did not make the purchase on my apple TV. After purchasing on my computer, I then went to the youtube app via apple tv like you said to do. There is no ‘my purchases’ on the youtube apple tv app. I tried to add the movie through a playlist, but that did not work either. My last ditch effort was to mirror the movie through my iphone, but youtube apparently does not give that option for movies. There is no way to play this movie through the apple tv.

        • Kevin Fitchard

          Hey Bob,

          There isn’t a “My Purchases” tab, but at least on the YouTube software I have on my Apple TV there should be a “My YouTube” in the top menu when you scroll all the way to the top of screen. In that tab you should be able to scroll down to a “My purchases” section which should show the movie if the account is linked.

          In any case, I feel for you if it’s not showing. I would be pissed too if I bought the movie from YouTube and my YouTube app wouldn’t let me watch it. I swear it’s working for me tho.

      • What he’s saying is: once purchased in a browser, you can’t go into your ATV app and see a “Purchased” option. There’s not a “Purchased” option there. Can’t access it through “Watch Later,” “Favorites” etc. Still stuck on this one.

          • Kevin Fitchard

            Hey Grant, that may be the case. I have a the most recent generation Apple TV, which uses the new YouTube software. I’m trying to get confirmation whether the older generation Apple TV’s don’t support the most recent YouTube app update, which could be the source of everyone’s problems here.

    • I found the advice pretty clear. Purchase on a computer, then view on your Apple TV. I’m pretty sure the whole point of this helpful article was because there is no purchase section available on Apple TV.

  12. Scott Hilt

    Normally I buy my movies through iTunes and watch with my AppleTV, but due to the limited release right now, I found it much easier to buy it through Xbox Video and watch on my One. The movie is actually pretty funny I thought. I’m a huge Seth Rogan fan. I liked it a lot.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hey Scott,

      Yeah, that’s the way to go. If Apple isn’t going to play ball, then your best bet is definitely to go with a service that is officially distributing the flick. Otherwise you run into all of the problems everyone in this comment section is having.

      I saw the first 20 minutes during my “research” into buying and streaming the movie. To be honest the previews don’t make it look that great, but I fricking loved The End so if it’s anywhere near as good as that movie I won’t bill Gigaom for the purchase. :)

  13. I could not successfully use AirPlay to stream from my iPhone 5 to my Apple TV Gen 2. Only could get audio to stream. Oddly enough, the Sony press release never mentioned using your PS4 to watch it. I downloaded the YouTube app on the PS4 and watched it from my Purchases.

  14. I love the walk-through, but attempting to rent or purchase a YouTube movie on an iPad is a dead end. When you get to the movie page on the YouTube web site using a mobile browser, it displays ‘This video is not available on mobile. Add to playlist to watch later on a PC’. Why do I feel as if I’ve gone back ten years on the Internet? No, you can’t do anything on the YouTube app. It just says it requires a purchase. I can’t see any way around this unless you use a … PC (or a Mac, I’m assuming). Don’t have one where I’m at, so im SOL. You might want to stress the need for a computer in this process. Why in the hell is this necessary?

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Good point Chapps,

      I added some wording to make it clear you need to buy this movie from a PC or Mac and then bring it over to your mobile devices. But yeah, it’s frigging stupid you can’t actually make that transaction from a mobile browser. It’s getting ridiculous that we still have this huge dichotomy between PC (which is browser centric) and mobile devices (which are app centric) when doing something as simple as managing a purchase or an account.

  15. So we purchased it through YouTube on our Mac and then went into YouTube on the television via AppleTv. It was in the “purchased section” but now it is saying that there is an error when we try to play it and that it may be inappropriate for somw viewers. We don’t have any safety controls so it’s weird that we can’t just press play. Just gives us an error sign. Anyway to figure this out?

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hey Evan,

      That’s strange. I just double-checked my Apple TV, and I’m having no problems. Did you check to make sure you don’t have safety mode on by default in the YouTube app (settings tab >> Safety Mode)? When I turn on Safety mode it won’t play the movie and I get a similar (though not the same) message.

      The only other thing I can think of is you may need to update your Apple TV software. I believe Apple TV handles app updates through its overall system updates.

      If you get it working, let us know here in case other people are having the same problem. Thanks!

      • Kevin,

        How is it working for you? I did exactly what you did. I have the latest Apple TV software update. I have no safety settings. I cannot even get it to display on my Apple TV YouTube app.

        • Kevin Fitchard

          Hey Jon,

          It’s working fine for me still. Sorry you’re still having problems. Are you logged into the same Google/YouTube account you used to buy/rent the movie?

      • Kevin Fitchard

        Hi JVH, Make sure you’re logged into the same YouTube/Google account on the TV that you used to buy/rent the movie. If you’re like me and have multiple Gmail accounts for work/personal use, then you have multiple IDs.

        You should be go to the settings tab and sign out and then sign back in. You’ll get an activation code which you enter into your PC browser here: YouTube.com/activate

        Make sure the account ID in the upper right-hand corner is the same one that you bought the movie with.

        Let us know if that works.

        • Katherine K

          Thank you for the advice! I’m logged into both AppleTV and the YouTube app with the same email (my gmail address), but I can’t seem to find this activation code.

          When you say “go to the settings tab and sign out and then sign back in”, do you mean the overall settings for AppleTV? Or is there supposed to be a “settings tab” within the YouTube app on the screen (I’m not seeing one)? Thank you so much!

          • Kevin Fitchard

            Hi Katherine,

            It should be in the top menu bar of the YouTube app in Apple TV. Just scroll all the way to the top and the menu bar should appear. The settings tab should be all the way to the right and within it an option for signing in. If you’re signing in for the first time or sign out then sign back in, the app should give you an activation code.

            • Kevin Fitchard

              Hey Bert, Katherine,

              Do you have the most recent Apple TV software (you can check from the settings icon on the main Apple TV screen under “General”)? Everything I’m describing is showing up in my YouTube app on Apple TV, so I can’t think of why it would be different in yours unless we’re using different versions of the software.

            • Kevin Fitchard

              Also for all of you having problems with the YouTube app, do you know if you have the Gen 1 or Gen 2 Apple TV. Not sure, but I’m wondering if that’s the reason why your YouTube apps aren’t authorizing through activation codes (the same way HBO Go or ESPN would)