By David Ludlow
Going away but want to catch up on your favourite TV shows? No problem, our guide will how you how to keep watching whether you’re on holiday or just sat outside in your garden.
With the summer months upon us and, hopefully, some better weather, our habits change. Whether that’s going away on holiday or just decamping to the garden for the day, the chances are that you’ll spend less time in front of your main telly, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up watching your favourite TV shows.
In this post, we look at the ways that you can keep watching when you’re out-and-about or are just lazing around in your garden. Before we start, it’s worth bearing a few things in mind. First, UK TV channels are licensed for the UK, so you have to be in this country to watch. Secondly, to watch live TV you need to have a TV license, regardless of whether you’re watching on a television, mobile phone or tablet. And, you also need a TV license if you want to watch or download on-demand content from BBC iPlayer.
Finally, be careful of any data charges you may face, as streaming video can use a lot of data. This is particularly important if you’re watching on mobile and don’t have much data with your contract.
Watching TV both live and on-demand varies by device and application, so we’ve split this article by type to help you find the best way.
Freeview Mobile App
One of the benefits of having Freeview Play on your TV is the seamless integration of live and catch-up TV. The good news is that this experience is replicated on your iPhone or iPad via the official Freeview app.
The app prompts you to install the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My 5 and UKTV Play apps, which take care of the actual streaming. So, why, you may ask, install Freeview Play? The answer is simple: it unifies all of the content you can watch in one place to make things easier.
Via the What’s On section, you can quickly see which programmes are available to watch now and next. Then, there’s the full TV Guide, which shows you what’s on, on every channel and lets you step back up to seven days to see on-demand content. Tap any show to get more information and, if it’s available through one of the installed players, you can select to watch the programme.
The Freeview Play app also gives you an integrated search, letting you find shows to watch regardless of which channel they’re on, saving time from having to open multiple apps.
While Freeview Play provides you with a neat unified interface, it’s only available for Apple devices at the moment. For Android, Mac or Windows devices, accessing content means using individual services and apps. Even for iOS, the individual apps are needed to stream content and for providing additional features, such as downloading TV shows for offline viewing. Here’s an overview of each major service, each of which is available for Apple, Android and online. We’ll explain the differences with each.
BBC iPlayer requires an account and TV license to watch. Once you’re signed in, you can watch both live and on-demand content. TV shows can be downloaded for offline viewing via the website, iOS or Android apps.
ITV Hub requires you to have an account before you can watch live or on-demand content. If you upgrade to ITV Hub+ (£3.99 a month), you go ad-free and can download shows via the iOS platform only.
All 4 lets you watch live channels on all platforms, although the web version requires you to have Adobe Flash and this is disabled by default on the Chrome browser. On-demand content is available on the web (Flash not required) and mobile apps if you register an account, which also gives you the option to download content on Apple and Android devices. The service is ad-supported.
There are significant differences between versions with My5. If you use the website you can view on-demand content but not live content. If you download the Apple or Android Apps, you can watch live TV channels, and view on-demand content. There’s currently no download option and the service is ad-supported.
UKTV Play gives you access to live and on-demand content via the web and the Apple and Android apps. There’s currently no option to download content and the service is ad-supported, much like the live channels available through Freeview Play.
Watching on another TV
If you want to watch specific content on a TV and it does not already have on demand services installed, you can stream content directly from your phone.
A Google Chromecast lets you start playing content on your mobile device (Apple or Android), then you tap the Cast button (this looks like a TV) and you then select the Chromecast you want to use and your content appears on your TV, and playback is controlled via your tablet or smartphone. Chromecast is available on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and UKTV Play.