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Cast 105 (Nov 14)

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How to Watch Catch Up TV

Gone are the days of missing a TV show and waiting a year for a repeat. Now, you can watch TV from the last seven days, on demand. Here's our guide...

Listen to, or download, FrequencyCast Show 42 (30 mins)

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Catch Up TV - Cast 42 Transcript:

Pete:

Today we are discussing catch up TV.

Carl:

Catch up TV? - is that like tomato sauce TV? No, seriously - that would be a cheesy joke, and we don't do those, do we? Anyway, catch up TV is when you want to catch up, when you have caught up with TV?

Pete:

TV Remote ControlOK, so ... let's say you've missed a TV programme, I'm talking to you about, let's say, Dragons' Den, you've missed it, you want to be able to go home and watch Dragons' Den on demand, TV that's happened in the last few days that you've missed.

Carl:

Yes, right, OK - how many is a "few" days, though?

Pete:

It depends on the service - anywhere from seven to 31 days, depending on which particular TV service you go for.

Carl:

So that's a week or a month, basically? - because normally you realise within a week you've missed something, don't you?

Pete:

True enough, yeah - what we're actually going to talk about in this particular part of the show is the main five TV channels, so BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

Carl:

OK, and is this for your PC or your TV?

Pete:

Actually both - we're going to talk about the PC first, because this is probably one of the most common ways of doing it. Yes you can sit in front of your laptop or your PC, and watch TV from the last seven days from those channels.

Carl:

OK, I think I'd prefer it on the telly, but OK - off you go.

Pete:

OK, so do you want to know how it works?

Carl:

Of course - why wouldn't I?

Pete:

Well, it used to be that you'd have to download special software ...

Carl:

There used to be a time when I wouldn't like this bit - carry on.

Pete:

... onto your computer, so that you could download programmes and watch them back after they'd fully downloaded. Now pretty much all of it is streaming, so you can go straight to a particular service from a web browser, and just click the button and start watching.

Carl:

OK, that's more immediate.

Pete:

Exactly. Shall we go through some channels - pick a channel for me?

Carl:

Pick a channel, any channel - well let's start at the very beginning, that's a very good place to start. That would be BBC1.

Pete:

OK, and I have my handy-dandy laptop here, and I've already opened up all of these in the little window here, so Carl is now looking at the BBC iPlayer window. While he does that, I'll tell you a couple of bit about it: this allows you to stream or to download, and it offers HD content.

BBC iPlayer

Carl:

Ooh - this is good!

Pete:

And best of all, it's for free, which is even better.

Carl:

Oh, I like this bit.

Pete:

And you can get it on a mobile phone, your iPhone, and on games consoles. We've tried it on the Wii.

Carl:

Oh that's smart ... I like the way this is laid out, this is very smart - you've got nice little images of what the programmes are, it looks quite sleek, and hold on a minute ... these down here, are these not radio icons?

Pete:

Yep, so uniquely the BBC iPlayer also does radio stations. So yeah, the last seven days of TV and radio, very smooth interface, very impressive, the Beeb have done a really good job.

BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

 

ITV PlayerLet's take a look at ITV, so ITV have their Net Player, this gives you content from ITV1, 2, 3, 4 and CITV, the kids' TV show, you can stream for 30 days on this one, and it's free, so slightly more than the Beeb there, although there is apparently some talk of this becoming a chargeable service before too long, as we know ITV are struggling at the moment, and they're looking at this as a possible way of making some money, so it may not be free for that much longer.

Carl:

What sort of price will that be then?

Pete:

I don't know, we've seen prices range from things like 79p up to a couple of quid, so somewhere in that ball park probably.

Carl:

That's still not as bad as your TV licence though, is it?

Pete:

You have to pay that as well, unfortunately.

Carl:

Right, so we've got 30 day catch ups, soaps, A to Z? - oh, you can go from A to Z or you can go from your Top 10 - oh nice. So it's quite easy to actually find what you're looking for, even if you're not too sure what you're looking for.

Pete:

Yeah, so I've just clicked on Top 10 here.

Carl:

Again, a very slick layout.

Pete:

OK, so I've just clicked on Top 10 - what we have here, surprise surprise: Coronation Street, we have the Tour de France, Living with Michael Jackson, Katie Price Exclusive, Monday Monday, Coronation Street again.

ITV Player: http://www.itv.com/ITVPlayer

Carl:

Mmm - don't think I'll be watching any of those.

Pete:

4 On DemandOK, let's take a look at Channel 4, Channel 4 recently changed: they used to have this client bit of software you had to download before you could use their service, 4OD, but they've done away with that, it's all now through a web browser. They've also got a really large back catalogue, so it's more than just the last seven days, they've gone back a heck of a long way with a lot of their archive material. They also support Mac and Linux, which is rather nifty.

Let me just show you their interface here.

Channel 4 On Demand

Carl:

OK. Ooh, that's nice, oh I like this - you can browse by date, and you can scroll - ooh, that's clever, now that's a nice little interface actually, it's quite slick. As you're dragging your mouse over the images, it shows you a description of what it's about, like One Tree Hill here, so you actually get a full good description of each. And what's this, Inside Nature's Giants? - click on that - oh that's good, uncovering the ... yeah, I've been watching this, but I didn't see the alligator one.

Pete:

Well there you go. OK, let's try ...

Carl:

Although technically that's a crocodile.

Pete:

Thank you. Let's try Video Finder - give me the name of a TV show.

Carl:

Peep Show.

Pete:

Oh, your favourite, Peep Show, OK. "Peep Show" ... here we go, OK, now this has got series one, two, three, four and five of Peep Show all available to view now for free.

Channel 4: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/4od

Carl:

Wow, saves money on a DVD.

Pete:

Demand FiveOK, so that's 4 on Demand, then we've got Channel 5 offering Demand Five, which is content from Channel 5, Fiver, Five USA and More Milkshake. They offer free content, you can download shows or rent them for 14 days, 99p if you want to rent a show, or you can keep them forever. HD shows are also available at about £2, which you can keep for good if you wish.

Carl:

Thank you very much, I'll put that in my pocket.

Pete:

It is important to mention that, with catch up TV, you can only typically watch what has been created for the broadcaster, so let's take Channel 4 as an example, you can get things like Hollyoaks and Big Brother, which were actually Channel 4 programmes, so they will be available on Channel 4's on Demand service, but something like Friends, which is a show that's quite often shown on Channel 4, wasn't sourced by them, the rights are owned by I think it's Warner Brothers in the US, so that kind of thing isn't available, it's only content that was originated by the broadcaster, not like a film they might have bought in to show that sort of thing.

Demand Five: http://demand.five.tv

Carl:

Right, that makes sense, they can only sell you what they own.

Pete:

Pretty much, that's about it. I also want to make mention of Sky, not one of the top five channels that we were talking about, but they do offer an exceptionally good service, called the Sky Player, so Sky TV customers can watch and download shows for over 30 different channels, basically for free, if you're a Sky subscriber you can get this stuff for free. It works on a PC or a Mac. If you don't have a Sky account, maybe you're not allowed a dish where you are, you can still get to these channels, you'd have to pay for them, but you can watch channels with a Sky Player. You can also watch live TV, which is pretty unique for these catch up services, over 20 channels, Sky Sports, Sky Real Life, Gold, Eden, MTV, ESPN Classic, you can watch live TV over the PC with a Sky Player, which is pretty good.

Carl:

Fantastic, that's quite helpful, especially if you're out on business.

Sky Player: http://skyplayer.sky.com

Pete:

Indeed it is.

Carl:

OK, so if I was to watch these on my computer, that's all very well - how do I put them on my telly?

Pete:

Well, there are a number of ways you can actually hook up your PC or your laptop to your TV, so if we look at my laptop here, there's a socket there.

Carl:

Oh right - that's the connector that goes to your screen?

Pete:

Yes, that's the VGA output. Also here we have this one that says ...

Carl:

Oh, HDMI - that's high definition, is it?

Pete:

Absolutely, so you can connect either using the VGA monitor output, or an HDMI output, from this laptop to your TV. My telly at home has got a PC input and a HDMI input, so I could hook this straight into my TV and watch these catch up services. HDMI carries the audio, whereas the PC out doesn't, so if you've got an HDMI port on your laptop, and an HDMI telly - perfect.

Carl:

Right, so you're saying, you'll only get a visual if you use the PC out? So the audio has to be routed separately, or the audio comes from your laptop?

Pete:

Either, it'll come from your laptop by default, but you can take the output and plug it into your telly as well that way, a bit more work, but you can do it.

Carl:

And the HDMI is obviously high definition?

Pete:

It is indeed, yep.

Carl:

And the other one is not?

Pete:

Correct.

Carl:

Right, so actually you are better off using your HDMI, if you've got it.

Pete:

If you've got it on your laptop, and you've got it on your telly, absolutely right. Otherwise, if you don't want to muck around with hooking these things direct into your TV set, there are a number of services of course that support catch up TV. Virgin is a big one, they offer content from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Living One and Living, and that service is completely free with all of their TV packages, so seven days' worth of telly from Virgin, quite impressive.

Carl:

That's very generous of them.

Pete:

Tiscali TV, they offer BBC, Channel 4 and FX for free. We covered Tiscali TV in show 32. We do want to mention that the plans for Tiscali TV are still not entirely clear at the moment. As you remember, Tiscali was taken over by the Carphone Warehouse a while ago, so the future of Tiscali TV, not entirely clear just at the moment. Sky, if you've got a Sky Plus or a Sky Plus HD box, there is a small amount of content that comes down automatically, and is recorded onto special reserved space on the hard disk, a pretty limited connection, but there are rumours that Sky will soon be offering their own on demand service, as the more expensive Sky boxes have got an Ethernet internet socket on the back.

Carl:

OK.

Pete:

Top Up TVThen there's our good old friend, Top Up TV, that downloads a very small amount of content onto a hard disk overnight, regular listeners will know it's not a particular favourite of ours, but they do offer some BBC on demand content downloaded overnight. Freeview and Freesat, at the moment don't offer any kind of on demand service at all, although most of the Freesat boxes do have an Ethernet internet connector on the back, and again rumours of an internet service for Freesat have been kicking around for a while.

Top Up TV Screen

Carl:

What are BT Vision up to?

Pete:

BT VisionWell, BT Vision are probably our favourites, they actually offer BBC, ITV, 4 on Demand and Five, so they carry the whole lot, they're the only one out of all the services that offer catch up TV for all of those options. It's free if you're a subscriber to any of their packages, prices start from about £7.50 a month for the first three months. Now, in the studio we don't have BT Vision, but I've been rather clever and brought with me a recording of me playing with BT Vision a little bit earlier, so here's a quick sample.

Carl:

Ooh!

Pete:

So I'm here in front of my lovely telly at home with my BT Vision box, and just to try out the on demand services, I select ‘on demand' on the remote control, and I scroll through the menu to downloads, film, TV, sport, kids, music, more and replay. Let's select replay: what I now see is a menu with this week's top TV, BBC, ITV Net Player, 4 on Demand, Demand Five and free trailers. Let's just select 4 on Demand, and I have a menu of all shows, drama, entertainment and comedy, factual or pay-per-view. We're going to all shows, I now have a list of 33 shows I can scroll through: Eight out of Ten Cats, Alan Carr, Big Brother, Come Dine With Me, Countdown, and so on.

BT Vision

Just going to try out one of these on demand shows, let's go back to the replay menu, scroll two to the left to BBC, I'll select ‘all shows' - this is showing me 66 shows, and scrolling down the list, Angus and Cheryl, Baby Beauty Queens, Casualty, The Culture Show, Dragons' Den, EastEnders, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross - let's just pick one of these at random, let's go for Casualty, I select Casualty, it says ‘getting programmes', Casualty Saturday free, let's click a button - I'm now told this is 49 minutes long, it's available until 9.54 this coming Saturday. Let's just try it, let's press play, the screen's gone dark.

(Casualty theme tune plays)

So there we go, that took about two seconds to get Casualty playing there. So that's just a sample of how easy it is to pick up catch up TV using BT Vision.

Carl:

Thanks, that's quite good for you, you did that on your own, did you?

Pete:

Fetch TV BoxA few other services we want to make mention of: there a service called Fetch TV, they're soon to be launching something called the SmartBox 8000, which is a Freeview Plus recorder that also has an internet thingy and an on demand service with it. It claims to be offering BBC iPlayer, as well as content from Channel 4, Sky Sports News, Discovery and CNN.

 

Carl:

And is it shaped like a bone?

Pete:

Fetch TV, yes, very good, thank you. Anyway, email, we had an email in from Steven Goulding, talking to us about Fetch TV. He says, "This new Fetch TV box will be on sale at John Lewis for 219 of your pounds, possibly a little over-priced", he says - "any chance we can review it in one of our shows?" Well, we'd love to, and if Fetch TV ever decide to answer our emails, maybe we will.

BT YouView Digital TV Service

Carl:

How many emails have we sent now?

Pete:

903. Other services to mention include Blinkbox, they let you download TV shows and movies to keep; iTunes of course, download them to your iPhone, pretty expensive sometimes, but a good way of getting on demand TV content; Jump TV, if you want TV from outside of the UK, 60 countries are served, and there's a service called TVCatchup.com we have to mention as well.

Carl:

Good, got to mention them there.

Pete:

Carl, what do you think TVCatchup offer?

Carl:

Well, erm ....

Pete:

Go on Carl - what do you think?

Carl:

TV programmes, catch up, television?

Pete:

Yep, they don't actually offer any catch up TV service at all, it's really well named, isn't it? - very apt.

Carl:

So, what do they do?

Pete:

They actually offer live TV, you can watch 30 channels of live TV.

Carl:

What - at once?

Pete:

If you've got 30 PCs, yes.

Carl:

How many eyes do you need for that? Good for any alien race that happened to be listening to us.

Pete:

So there you go - that is our summary of catch up TV.

Carl:

Well, thank you very much.

Listen to, or download, FrequencyCast Show 42 (30 mins)

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