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TV over Internet – Ways to watch TV online

TV over broadband Internet is fast becoming the next ‘big thing’ in UK broadcasting.

We take a look at the various Internet TV services and how to get them.

YouView with TalkTalk

What is Internet TV?

In the UK, we’re seeing an increasing number of digital TV services being delivered over a Broadband Internet connection – Services include the BBC iPlayer, YouView, BT Vision, Sky Anytime+ and Virgin On Demand.

These online services offer TV programmes and movies “on-demand” for viewing on your TV set, on your computer, or on a mobile device. The content is most commonly delivered (or “streamed”) using something called IPTV, which stands for Internet Protocol TV.

To access online TV services, you will need a broadband connection, and to be able to connect a suitable Internet-enabled TV, or set-top box to your Broadband line. Many services can be accessed from a computer or a smartphone.


The Internet TV options:

Here is a brief summary of the various Internet TV services on offer in the UK:

YouView Summary: On-demand TV content on your telly over Broadband

YouView LogoYouView launched in 2012 and combines Freeview and on-demand TV content.

Yhe YouView service givs you access to a large library of on-demand TV shows and films. You can view on-demand content on your TV either on a pay-per-view basis or with a monthly subscription.

You can get a free YouView box from BT, and get access to 4 Freeview HD channels, plus a decent collection of movies in HD to watch via Broadband on your TV.

BT Vision LogoIf you get the box from BT, you’ll also get access to the BT Vision librray of content.

More details at get.youview.bt.com

Virgin Media Summary: TV via Cable

Availability: Limited to Cable TV areas

If you’re served by cable TV operator Virgin Media, take a look their digital TV service as this offers a huge library of movies and programmes that you can access whenever you like in addition to your normal telly channels, with some content available in high definition.

Virgin MediaWith the Virgin Media On Demand service, you’re not tied to specific start times as the library of programmes and movies are always available.

For more details, go to www.virginmedia.com

TalkTalk TV Summary: Live TV channels on your telly over the Internet

Availability: Selected towns only

TalkTalk TVIf you live in one of the areas served by TalkTalk TV, formerly Tiscali TV, you may be able to get their digital TV and video-on-demand service. TalkTalk TV is available in towns including London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leicester, Stevenage, Milton Keynes, Wolverhampton, Salford and Warrington

This service uses your phone line to deliver around 80 TV channels to your home. You’re supplied with a special decoder box, and then have access to digital TV, plus other services.

TalkTalk TV offers over 1000 on-demand movies, over 5000 music videos, hundreds of TV series, and a TV rewind service.

More on TalkTalk TV on our Talktalk TV page or at talktalk.co.uk/tv.

TV broadcasters / On demand Summary: Selected content on your PC over Broadband

A number of TV companies offer their TV shows for viewing or download online. They offer a “watch again” or “catch-up TV” service. Here’s a summary.

  • BBC – The BBC’s iPlayer allows you to watch 7 days of BBC content for free on your PC – www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer
  • ITV – Streaming service over the Internet, offering 30 days of “catch-up TV” – www.itv.com/ITVPlayer
  • Channel 4 – On demand service from a PC. Some content is pay-per-view. www.channel4.com/4od
  • Channel 5 – Repeats of some of their shows on a PC. demand.five.tv
  • Sky – Some Sky TV shows, plus movies are available on your PC with Sky Go. The service is free to Sky customers. www.sky.com/skygo

Catch-up TV

For more, see our Catch Up TV Summary page

Sky Go Summary: Content for your Windows PC or Mac

Sky Player LogoWatch Sky TV without a satellite dish with Sky Go (formerly Sky Player). Packages available include Entertainment, Sky Sports and Sky Movies. No annual subscription required, and the service offers live and on-demand content over Broadband.

See our Sky Go page, or go to the Sky Go site for full details.

Apple TV Apple TVSummary: Stream video and TV to your telly

Apple TV is a small box from Apple that plugs into your TV and streams movies, TV shows plus content from iTunes. Supports wireless and HD!

More details on our Apple TV Information page.

Blinkbox TV Summary: Films and TV shows on your PC

Blinkbox MoviesBlinkbox offers over 10,000 movies and TV shows to watch on-demand, or download to keep on your PC. They also offer a decent selection of TV shows – some are free (including Peep Show, Shameless and even Morph), and the others can be watched online or downloaded. No wait time, and no need to install special software.

Given that some of their content is free (if you don’t mind sitting through an advert first), then Blinkbox is a good choice, and we’d encourage you to take a look. More on our Blinkbox page.

See what Blinkbox offers at www.blinkbox.com.

LoveFilm Summary: DVDs through the post, as well as online

LoveFilm Online Free TrialMore well-known for their DVD-by-post rental service, in 2010, LoveFilm branched out into online movie rentals. Watch films on your PC, on an Internet-connected TV, or using a Playstation 3.

The choice of films and TV shows is decent, and when used in combination with their postal DVD rental service (with no late fees), this option is a good one for many film enthusiasts. We have more detail on how this works on our LoveFilm DVD and Online page.

More details on what the service offers at LoveFilm.com.

Netflix Summary: Streaming Movies and TV Shows online

Netflix UK LogoThe huge American streaming service that is Netflix has finally come to the UK.

For a monthly fee of £5.99, watch all the movies and TV you want on your computer, games console, Internet TV, mobile phone or tablet computer.

An impressive line-up of shows – this is set to be a serious rival to Amazon’s LoveFilm.

More details at www.netflix.com, or on our dedicated Netflix UK Review page.

NOW TV Summary: Movies from Sky without a contract

Now TV LogoThis service is Sky’s rival to Netflix and LoveFilm. Now TV offers access to movies from the Sky Movies channels without the need for a dish or a long-term contract. The service is available for PC, Mac, tablets, games consoles and on YouView.

See our Now TV page, or go to www.nowtv.com for full details.

iTunes Summary: Content for your PC, iPod or iPhone

Downloads from iTunesiTunes, the software from Apple, has now got some deals in place to allow TV shows to be bought and downloaded on demand. BBC shows are available now, as well as US TV shows like Lost, South Park, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

Go to www.apple.com/itunes to see what’s on offer.

TVCatchup.com Summary: Watch live free-to-view channels on a PC.

With a slightly misleading name, this service lets you watch 30 UK TV channels from your PC. Channels are all free-to-view in the UK. Sign up at www.tvcatchup.com.

You can also watch some Freeview channels live on your iPhone by going to iphone.tvcatchup.com from the iPhone web browser

Slingbox Summary: Watch live TV from another location on a PC

SlingboxA slightly different solution, but a really useful one. If you have Broadband at home, with a Slingbox you can access your home TV setup and watch TV or recordings over the Internet. Great for if you’re away from home and want to watch TV shows or recordings from your own home setup, or perhaps if you want to set your Sky+ box remotely.

For more, see our Slingbox page.

TV from other countries Summary: Worldwide TV on your PC

JumpTV has partnered with more than 180 television broadcasters from over 60 countries to provide live broadcasting of TV stations from around the world. If you’re outside of your native country and are looking to keep in touch with TV from back home, it may well be worth looking at JumpTV.

More details at www.jumptv.com.

Other solutions We’ve also heard of a couple of software applications that allow you to watch TV over a broadband Internet connection, with shows streamed from around the world.

If you’re keen to try, take a look at PCShowBuzz (read our review) or NetSpan. Many of the TV channels available offered by these services can be accessed without these software applications, so before buying, you may want to visit www.webtvlist.com for a list of stations freely available.

Also, check out Zattoo for over 30 channels of TV, streamed live to a special Windows application for free – zattoo.com


Some useful links:

8 Responses to "TV over Internet – Ways to watch TV online"


    I watch BBC Iplayer on my laptop. When watching BBC news in
    real time I get London news after the main news, rather than
    the news from Scotland, where I live. I have contacted the BBC about this but have never had a response. On my screen it says
    “Location. Scotland.” Any ideas?

  2. Stan kohen Says:

    can I give my s/t box away to my son who is not on talk talk and expect it to work through an outher broadband supplier ??

  3. Cecilia Sutcliffe Says:

    This is great, what with all the ways they show you how to get TV on the internet. I was struggling to find my home channels outside of the UK but I came across this website which somehow manages it! Give them a try, its free too. Chuffed to bits!!!

  4. Jim Says:

    Nice list but you are missing Viewster.com for PC and I know there is a Android app.

    Free shows with no charge admittedly you are not going to get
    Block busters for free but some good shows and films.
    I like the 2009 cop show The Bridge or Secrets of the Universe. There is even a Queen (Rock band) film.

  5. Jim Says:

    Forgot mention also missing the STV player on Android http://player.stv.tv/programmes/scotland-revealed/

    Planet Knowledge. http://planetknowledge.tv/

    USTV. https://www.ustvnow.com

    Film on TV. http://www.filmon.com/download/#android
    Can be watch on many platforms not just Android.

    Hope it helps others.

  6. Sarah Says:

    I use this website http://www.watchfreeview.com to watch UK TV channels here in Spain, love it :)

  7. Julie Phillips Says:

    All the free ones are no good, well they are until everyone jumps on the same channel and it stops and starts! I used Filmon and got fed up so spent some money on a VPN service and can use my Sky Go account anywhere in the world in HD and Netflix for my on demand movies. Works great with iPlayer and ITV catchup in HD too. The site I use is http://www.britishtvanywhere.com and they have many plans to suit everyone.

  8. Frustrated of Tunny Wells Says:

    I pay my BBC License, SKY Sports subscription and BT Phone/Broadband so eligible for BT Sport…I spend 10 months of the year overseas and cannot watch any of the services provided that I pay for during that time. To rub salt in the wound, I don’t even have (to the best of my knowledge) the option of paying and downloading Match of the Day on a Sunday morning. So much for the digital revolution. Hugely frustrating as a Brit overseas. Any reliable and legal options ?

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