/ Technology

Which on-demand TV service meets all your demands?

Pointing a remote control at a TV

We’re watching more TV than ever across numerous devices, including both free and paid-for content. But are you satisfied with the services available, and how could they improve?

A recent TV Licensing study looking at TV viewing habits in the UK has revealed that the way we watch TV is changing.

On average, we now have fewer TVs per household, but we’re actually watching more TV. In fact, we’re watching just over four hours of TV per day, which is an increase of half an hour since 2006.

Growing demand for on-demand

During my own hours of TV consumption, I’ve noticed the recent influx of advertisements for catch-up and on-demand TV services. It seems to me that broadcasters are advertising their catch-up TV services as a way for viewers to keep in touch with regular programmes.

In addition, many paid on-demand services such as Netflix and LoveFilm are shouting about their wide ranges of content, available across multiple devices. Some are even offering a free one-month trial to test run the platform before asking customers to hand over their hard-earned money.

As an Aussie who’s recently moved to the UK, I feel inundated with choice for on-demand and catch-up TV services. There isn’t a great deal of choice in Australia, so I’m approaching the market with fresh eyes. I enjoy watching TV shows and documentaries via BBC iPlayer on my tablet, but I’ve found that some of the other catch-up TV provider’s apps aren’t as user friendly.

Your favourite TV content services

I’m on the lookout for an on-demand TV service, where I can access the latest films and TV shows as well as a range of classics. I’m wondering whether I should go for a service that is subscription based so I can access as many films/TV shows as I like, or whether I should use a pay-as-you-go service.

Do you have any favourite on-demand TV services? Do you find them easy to navigate and hunt down the content you’re looking for? And for the future, how do you think the content providers could improve these services?

Tom says:
3 April 2013

I have been subscribing to NETFLIX for around a year. I was originally unaware of this as my wife had signed up on a free trial (which had continued). I was just about to cancel it when NETFLIX brought out the 13-episode “House of Cards” show – this was excellent. I have therefore decided to stay with them for the time being.

I also use BBC iPlayer occasionally. I tried the commercial channels C4/C5 etc but was infuriated with their adverts (you are forced to watch them) – I therefore do not watch any of these channels as a result. Our mainstay however is still Sky+.

House of Cards is great – it’s the reason I subscribed to Netflix. But now that I’ve finished watching it I’m still sticking with them, as I think their TV selection is good, and it works much better for me than Lovefilm (too much buffering, a poor user interface) ever did. The only problem is that all of the shows Sky has the rights to (Game of Thrones, Mad Men etc.) are missing.

Anon the mouse says:
3 April 2013

Their is a huge imbalance in the quality of ondemand services between the UK and the US. Even from companies that are in both countries (Netflix). As usual we pay more and get far less.
And Sky is now trying to beat out all ondemand services with NowTV hoovering up any new films and TV shows with a subscription 3x the cost of lovefilm. And people are buying into it, making the UK get dragged further behind in the ondemand scene.

I’m subscribed to Netflix UK (but access the superior US version) and hulu plus (again US based) because the US is lightyears ahead in ondemand content.
As an example of the difference between the US and UK, I’ve just finished watching all seasons of Sliders,the kids love the Lorax film, as well as Dr Horrible’s sing-along-blog and Sesame Street. I’ve just started on Star trek: TOS this week… and none of these are available in the UK. Even though they would be a good addition for lots of users and increase subscriptions.

Hulu Plus gives me access to TV shows the day after they have aired in the US (family guy, Big bang theory, game of thrones, house of cards, etc). And all it took was changing a single setting on my console and pc.

Maybe in another 5 years the UK will have caught up and I can drop the tweak.

Tom says:
4 April 2013

Can you share the info about how to change your setting (to the US channel)?

Anon the mouse says:
4 April 2013

I use http://www.unblock-us.com/ it’s only a few dollars (£3) and you change the DNS settings on your devices to use it. There are free ones about, but it really is a case of getting what you pay for. Selectable regions, no downtime so far. Also it does NOT slow down your net connection, so if you do it on a console you can still play multiplayer with minimal lag.

derek500 says:
5 April 2013

Having all four PSB catch-up services via Sky is brilliant. The best way to watch TV is on your TV.

The best thing is having BBC HD at the same quality as broadcast and as Sky use progressive download, it doesn’t matter if you have a slow BB connection as it’s not ‘streamed’.

So much better then the ‘lite’ version on the web based iPlayer (desktop, tablet, Smart TV etc.).

iPlayer is fine for me. It has to be a very interesting programme for me to put up with adverts. At one time I used to record programmes and skip through the adverts, but became tired of having to do this.

I get far more enjoyment from BBC radio and a computer.

I would like to have access to ‘On Demand’ golf tournaments without paying a huge monthly fee. At present The Masters is being played in the US and BBC2 are showing an hours highlights for the first days play and then showing a few hours on each of the last two days. This is the most golf coverage we get on Freeview until The Open is on in mid July. I would gladly pay for specific tournaments but that option is not available to me. I would have to subscribe to a general sports channel for various amounts of time. I thought by now we would have access to proper ‘on demand’ events.