There are now a great many ways to watch TV channels on your PC or Mac – here’s five ways you can using both internet-based (streaming from the web) and traditional broadcast (Freeview).
All these mean you can watch TV however and whenever you want, whether you’re in a coffee shop on a Wi-Fi network or sat on your sofa at home.
1. Stream channels live
Many free-to-air broadcasters now offer live simulcasts of their channels. You can view streams of the key BBC channels and ITV among others. However, these channels don’t yet simulcast local programming, so watching BBC Breakfast, for example, will mean you only get the London local news, even if you live in the South West!
2. Use BBC iPlayer or similar
iPlayer is a catch-up TV service and, although it’s available on many devices, the most popular way to view is still on your PC or Mac. ITV Player, 4oD (4 on Demand) and Demand Five are the commercial eqivalents – all work rather well, though the adverts can be frustrating and slow to load on some services.
3. Use TV Catchup
Despite its name, TV Catchup (www.tvcatchup.com) isn’t actually a catch-up TV service like BBC iPlayer, but instead enables you to stream many channels you’d get on Freeview. If you’re thinking this is a bit like the first option in our list, you’re right only that here you get 30-40 channels in one place and available at different qualities depending on the speed of your net connection. It’s also available on phones and tablets including the iPad and iPhone.
4. Sky Go and Sky Anytime+
Sky Go is a service from the satellite broadcaster that enables its subscribers to watch channels on their PC or Mac too (it also works on certain phones and tablets). You can log in using your Sky ID and watch many of the same channels you subscribe to – so if you have Sky Movies on your TV, you can also watch the channels on your PC and one other device. You can also take advantage of Sky Anytime+, which means you can watch content on demand so, for example, you can view films whenever you wish providing you’re a Sky Movies subscriber.
5. Buy a tuner
You can also buy a USB TV tuner for your Mac or PC – this is basically a USB dongle that has an antenna socket just like your standard TV at its other end. This can then be connected to either the wall or a portable aerial. You’ll then be able to receive Freeview channels on your computer. Elgato Eye TV (£45) is a popular option for Macs, while there are plenty of choices around the same price for the PC including Hauppage and AverMedia Freeview tuners. Some newer models can even pick up Freeview HD signals so you can watch HD on your PC.