Watching television has evolved rapidly since the evolution of the internet, but it’s only recently that we’ve been able to watch our favourite shows on the go, on tablets or on smartphones. It’s now thought that the average UK resident spends ninety minutes each month watching TV on devices other than their TV and it has been used to enhance our viewing experience.
Netflix and LoveFilm are two of the most popular pieces of software to be used to stream television, with Netflix remaining the frontrunner boasting nearly 30 million subscribers. Comparable programmes like 4oD, ITV player and the BBC iPlayer also provide on-demand or catch-up television on phones and tablets and the BBC has reported that requests from tablets have hugely outnumbered mobiles this year.
HBO’s app HBO Go is unfortunately only available in the US and with an existing cable subscription to HBO. Not an entirely separate programme, it does however add more flexibility to the HBO experience so even on holiday you needn’t miss new episodes of Game of Thrones. The CBS app for Android, Windows and Apple devices provides full HD episodes with delays ranging from 24 hours to eight days.
There are options beside the obvious branded ones though. The Crackle app is free to residents in the US, Canada, UK and Australia and adds more TV episodes and full-length movies every month – it might not be as well-stocked as a bigger programme but it is for free. Similarly free is the TV.com app which provides access to content from channels like CBS, Et and Showtime; it does have ads but as it’s a free app you can’t complain too much.
Some channels and specific programmes have been using this second-screen technology to enhance their watching experience. This year ITV have implemented the Fifth Judge X Factor app which allows fans to view interviews, videos and pictures as well as rating auditions and giving live feedback; combine this with phone-accessible websites like freebets.org, and the newly improved ITV Player app, and you can watch the show, discuss it with friends, catch up on news and place bets on the outcome in just one device, anywhere you want.
Comcast will soon be releasing an innovative new TV app called Xfinity TV Player for Android and iOs, a portable upgrade to their AnyPlay service. It features thirty five live television channels, all focussed on sports, children’s programming or news but more should come in the future. They also support on-demand shows and videos.
With so many options available to watch at home and on the go, there is no need to adhere to the strict rulings of the TV schedule – and as alternate forms of viewing become more prevalent, we should see the software improving and become much more competitive.