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.
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 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.
If 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.
For more details, go to www.virginmedia.com
|TalkTalk TV||Summary: Live TV channels on your telly over the Internet
Availability: Selected towns only
If 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.
|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.
For more, see our Catch Up TV Summary page
|Sky Go||Summary: Content for your Windows PC or Mac
Watch 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.
|Apple TV||Summary: 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 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
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
The 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.
|NOW TV||Summary: Movies from Sky without a contract
This 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.
|iTunes||Summary: Content for your PC, iPod or iPhone
iTunes, 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
|Oric||Summary: Find legally-available shows online
This is a UK website that aims to find legal places to watch TV episodes online, including a tracker to help you watch free episodes before the links expire. Sign up at oric.com.
|Slingbox||Summary: Watch live TV from another location on a PC
A 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
- Connecting your TV to the Internet – Help setting up an Internet connection
- LoveFilm – Movies on demand as well as DVD rentals
- View TV – A selection of online streaming TV stations from around the world
- UK TV Overseas – Details on how to get British TV abroad
- Internet TV Station Directory - Listings for Internet television channels from around the world.
- Webtvlist – a comprehensive list of online TV stations around the world
- Unofficial Guide to the BBC iPlayer – More on the BBC’s on demand service
- SeeSaw – Information on the UK on-demand TV service that closed in 2011
- On your PC – How to get TV and radio on your PC or laptop