Sunday, September 30, 2012


Watching television over the Internet has become increasingly common, from taking in the Olympics on the BBC website, to enjoying television series as part of subscriptions to Netflix and Lovefilm. To watch television in this way, you’ll typically require a fast enough connection, a good image and audio set up, and access to the right services, be they official providers or replay and catchup services. At the same time, its worth being awareness of the law surrounding watching television online, and some of the optional extras that can be used to enjoy the experience.




A Fast Enough Connection

Most broadband enabled computers and devices can now easily stream video signals, with many video players optimised to run in low bandwidth versions, as well as high definition. You may occasionally experience some buffering as the result of a connection, but most services are set up to allow you to stream without using a large amount of your bandwidth. For example, the BBC iPlayer recommends that users have a download rate of at least 3.2 mbps a second to stream content, which is below the national average of 4 to 6 mbps for users with broadband. Most smartphones and tablets can now handle this speed through wireless and 3G connections.

A Good Image and Audio Set Up

Although not essential, it’s worth having a good image and audio set up in place to watch television online. A flat screen television and decent sound can make a difference to watching content, particularly in high definition. It’s also worth investing in separate speakers if you want a comprehensive sound system.

Access to the Right Services

Of the most common services for watching television online in the UK, the BBC iPlayer is among the most used in terms of replaying BBC television and radio, and providing live streams. However, you will still need a TV license for the iPlayer, even if it is only watched on a computer. Other broadcaster related services like the ITV Player, 4OD, and Channel 5 On Demand are available for free viewing, with the expectation that you will have to sit through adverts. These services can typically only be used on a computer in the UK.
Other options include subscription only players like Sky GO, which provides live streams and library content from its channels, but requires you to pay for a monthly package. Other services that need a monthly subscription include Netflix and Lovefilm, which have large libraries of film and television content.
Catch up services, representing websites that group together the best recently aired programmes from broadcasters like the BBC and Channel Four are also useful. Free to use, they provide a way of sorting through the week’s content, and can be organised by genre, as well as by channels and favourites. These sites can make it much easier to avoid missing content, and can prevent you from being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material that appears online every week.

Awareness of the Law

It’s important to be aware of the dangers of watching television online. Always use legal sites and official players if possible, as illegal streaming and downloading sites can damage your computer, and can feature streams that are low quality. It’s best to invest in a small payment for a high quality site, where you will be able to make the most of high quality content on demand.


Optional Extras

Another option for watching television online is to synchronise your Internet and television services, meaning that you can stream content from the iPlayer and other sites over your television or games network in high quality.


Author Bio:
Patrick Hegarty is a technophile and likes to share his latest findings about watching TV online with a growing community of followers.

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