On-demand TV: Watch what you want, whenever you want

On-demand and catch-up television allows you to choose when to view your favourite programmes.

On-demand TV has been around for some time through computers, with BBC's iPlayer leading the way in streaming hundreds of hours of programmes. But the concept is now becoming a mainstream offering through traditional television sets, says Charlie Ponsonby of comparison site Simplifydigital.com.

"For the last couple of years high definition has been the big battle ground for the major TV players like Sky, Virgin Media and BT – but now the battle is shifting to on-demand content, with the result that they all now offer ever-growing on-demand libraries for their customers," he says.

On-demand viewing is already a major attraction of the internet for many - whether legal viewing from BBC iPlayer for example, or illegal viewing from peer-to-peer file shares. The great majority of this web content is free and sites like 123webTV.com provide a good guide to what's legally available where.

The key attraction is that you can choose from a library of stored programmes and watch them whenever is convenient for you. You have complete control over when you watch most programmes which means you can effectively ignore the standard TV programme schedule.

However, not all programmes are available though catch-up services or accessible libraries, which means you still need to press the record button in some instances. But a series link will ensure you never miss an episode of your favourite shows.

On-demand content is available through all the television suppliers. Your TV must be connected to the internet either via wi-fi or directly via an ethernet connection. This may be via a SmartTV (which connects directly to the internet) or via a web-enabled set top box (as is the case with Sky, Virgin Media and BT).

Virgin Media says on-demand viewing is growing at about 20 per cent per year and are likely to hit one billion on-demand views in 2011. There were 258 million hours watched on demand in the first quarter of the year, 60 per cent of the 2010 total.

In addition, the arrival of web-enabled SmartTV's and the impending launch of Youview next year, means that you don't necessarily have to take a subscription television service to enjoy on-demand viewing. However the quality and range of viewing is likely to be less satisfactory with the new free services.

What is key, is the speed of your broadband connection and the method of delivery of content over the internet. Both may compromise the quality of the picture you receive, warns Ponsonby. He's looked at the main options for us.

The main deals

Virgin Media

Size M+ (with TiVo 500GB box) costs £235.95 in the first year, including a £49.95 installation charge.

On-demand content includes catch-up TV from BBC i Player, ITV Player, 4oD and demandFive. There's also a library of complete series'. The service offers 65 channels.

BT Vision

TV Essential+ (including broadband and evening and weekend calls) costs £302 in the first year, including £120 line rental.

On-demand content includes catch-up television from BBC, ITV Channel 4 and Channel 5, plus a library of more than 5,500 programmes. The service has 70 Freeview channels.

Sky

Anytime+ (including HD, broadband, and SkyTalk Freetime) costs £479.40, including £119.40 line rental and a £30 installation fee. If you subscribe to the Sky sports channel or Sky movies channel, you also get their on-demand channels.

The service has about 240 channels, and 20mb download speeds.

Subscription-free

New SmartTVs offer some free content. They cost from around £329. Freesat offers iPlayer and ITVplayer. Freesat+ boxes cost from £209.99, plus installation from £60.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

    £32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

    Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

    £Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas