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Watch Online Streaming TV In The UK

Here in the UK there are a few good sources of online TV, mainly the BBC iPlayer (excellent), Channel 4 On Demand (4OD, works well), and now the ITV Player. All give you a selection of catch-up TV (usually a week or 30 days depending on the program) as well as older, archived programs and series (more so with 4OD).

iPlayer : No Ads. Streaming and Expiring Downloads supported. Resume feature let’s you continue a program from where you left off. New Higher Quality setting if you have the bandwidth. Great selection of the weeks programs from across the BBC TV and Radio network.

4OD : Sometimes, a small ad break but nothing to worry about. Supports Streaming and Downloads (which expire). Excellent selection of the weeks programs and a massive archive of such classics as Shameless, Skins, Derren Brown, Documentaries, Peep Show, Black Books, etc. It also uses a propriatry interface, not a web page. 4OD also sells movies and certain programs, and you can pre-book downloads in advance.

ITV Online : This is the new baby on the block, seems rather more limited that the other two since it is Streaming only, and plenty of ad breaks. These ads will also show if you try to jump through a program, making it harder to continue where you left off. It also has some great archive content, such as Ruth Rendell mysteries, Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Cracker etc.

Demand 5 : This is Channel 5’s online offering. Here you can watch C5 programs, on demand, but Streaming only.  You can also buy or rent programs for download, which requires special software to be installed. This means there’s only usually a weeks worth of telly to watch for free. Don’t forget, Five is home to some great US imports such as CSI, NCIS and Numb3rs.

There’s also a Sky Player but unless you’re already a Sky TV subscriber you won’t get in without paying a £15 a month subscription!

You also have the choice of watching some TV from around the world, using Joost and Miro . Joost is full of everything from TV series, to Shorts, to Music Videos. It’s now web based, though I liked the original flash download version better. It’s full of channels you can watch and fully supports favourites, voting, queues and much more. Miro is more patchy, less premium content and more in the way of obscure niche programs but it is open source and continuously updated.

But, the granddaddy of all online TV sites is Hulu . You get to watch the latest Simpsons, Battlestar Galactica, etc at that site as well as full movies and entire series of some US gems. Unfortunately, Hulu is locked to the USA and won’t display content to anyone outside there.

In fact, a lot of US TV stations have their own online TV sections, allowing you to watch everything from Lost to Prison Break and beyond. Stations such as Fox (24, American Idol, Prison Break), ABC (Lost, Greys Anatomy), CBS (CSI) and many more, including some familiar to UK Cable and Sattelite users such as SciFi Channel , Discovery, History Channel, etc.

The only way these sites now that you are not from the USA is because of your IP Address. So if you can mask, or hide, your IP address you are good to go.

There are many solutions to this. One way is to use a proxy based in the US and altering your browser manually, though it can be slow and hard to find these proxies. Luckily there is an easy way…

Download and install Hotspot Shield . This is a security application designed to hide your IP by connecting your PC via a Virtual Private Network to the Hotspot network. You will see a speed hit, but it depends on your broadband connection whether or not it will affect you too much. And you do see ads on top of webpages (or should, they just seem to leave a blank space on mine!) but they can be closed.

But the best thing about Hotspot Shield is it’s easy to activate and deactivate whenever you wish, and if you want to browse all the great US TV content – you can! Simple 🙂