Confused about the abundance of TV streaming services available in Australia in 2020?
You are not alone…. much has changed since we published the original article back in 2016
Some companies have folded while others have emerged, TV services such as streaming, now come in a variety of choices, some Free and others paid.
Confused by the “jargon” regarding “streaming”, “on-demand” TV etc. here is a quick idiots-guide or FAQ (Frequently-Asked-Questions)
Free-To-Air (Terrestrial) TV – Australia
There are more than two-dozen Free to Air channels in Australia (also known as Free View) including the five major channels presented below, ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine and Ten and are often referred to a “Terrestrial” channels and in most cases still need a TV Aerial to receive.
Gone are the days of only 5 Terrestrial channels to choose from, there are now more than twenty four including ABC HD, ABC Comedy, SBS HD, SBS World Movies, Seven HD, Seven 2, Seven Mate, 10 HD, 10 Bold, 9 HD, 9 Go, 9 Gem to name but a few. All Free-To-Air and all available on older traditional and newer Smart-TV’s
Being Free-to-air you have to watch each program when it is being aired, unless you have a recording-device such as Foxtel IQ or FetchTV. Very useful if you want to watch sports that are only available on Free-to-air TV but of little use otherwise considering the options and choices.
Smart-TV v Dumb-TV
What is a Smart-TV? (AKA a “Connected TV“) All newer TV’s (no more than 10 years old) are usually classified as Smart-TV‘s. A Smart TV is a television that has built-in Internet access, either by a direct, wired Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi and can:
- Stream media from your computer to your TV over your home network.
- Connect wirelessly using Wi-Fi Direct, where the device makes a one-to-one network connection so you can watch whatever is playing on your smartphone while it remains in your pocket.
- Use apps like Netflix, Stan, ABC iView etc to download to your smart TV, so you can watch online content without purchasing an additional device such as Apple TV, a games console or Blu-ray player. If you’re a Netflix watcher, check to see if there’s a dedicated Netflix button on the remote as this will allow you to jump straight to your saved shows.
- Automatically apply security and system updates to improve the TV’s features and performance.
A dumb-TV, has none of the above but can often be turned into a Smart-TV by adding an external device (set-top box) such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Telstra TV, Fetch TV, Foxtel Now Box, Amazon Fire TV Stick or gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation.
Streaming v Catchup v On-Demand
With Free to Air TV, you have to watch TV programs and movies when they are bein
g broadcast, or you can record them for future viewing with a recording device (see above) but if a particular movie or TV program isn’t showing or available on Free to Air TV you have a number of choices to find and watch that show or movie, some also FREE but the majority are PAID services.
What is a “Streaming Service”?
“Streaming” a TV program or Movie means you are watching the program as it is being downloaded to your TV or device from the Internet in real-time. As long as your Internet Service is quick enough, you should not see any delay, freezing (or lagging) of the picture. This means you do not have to wait for something to completely download before you watch it and your TV is not going to fill up or run out of storage space.
Streaming is used by services such as ABC iView, SBS Catchup, Netflix, Hulu, Stan, Amazon Prime Video etc. All you need is a Smart TV or set-top box with an Internet connection with a download speed of 3mbps or better.
What are “Catchup” or “On-Demand” Programs
“Catchup” is a phrase used by Foxtel where programs and movies not currently being shown on Foxtel, can be downloaded using a Foxtel IQ box with an Internet Connection. Older iQ boxes were not internet-enabled and if you wish to utilise this Foxtel feature, you may have to upgrade your IQ box. This is essentially the same as “streaming”
Set-Top boxes such as Telstra TV and Apple TV may offer “on-demand” services where movies and TV shows can be purchased individually, on-demand.
Telstra offer Telstra TV Box Office (formerly Bigpond Movies) where the latest movies can be purchased or rented and charged to a Telstra account.
Apple TV and Apple devices similarly allow the purchase or rental of shows using an Apple iTunes account.
Using a Chromecast media streamer you can also purchase programs through Google Play Movies & TV in a similar fashion to Apple TV and Telstra TV
What is a Smart-TV App?
In addition to viewing Free to Air Programs on a Smart-TV, they also come with built in “Apps” or “Programs” that allow access to streaming and on-demand services as detailed above.
Popular Apps such as “Netflix” and Amazon “Prime-TV” may also have their own dedicated buttons on the TV remote control but by going through the “Apps” section of your TV you will also find Apps for ABC iView, SBS On-demand, Stan, Apple TV, Telstra movies etc.
Because your Smart TV is connected to the Internet, it should be constantly “upgrading” itself with the latest Apps, so over time you may see the available Apps increase as new services (such as Disney+) are introduced.
How do I connect my TV to the Internet?
A smart-TV depends on an Internet Connection. Most Smart-TV’s and Set-Top Boxes can connect via a “wired” (Ethernet cable) or wire-less (Wi-Fi) connection.
A wired connection is always going to be the ultimate option as it delivers the fastest internet connection. However, this would mean having a hard-wired connection into the back of the TV from a nearby Ethernet connection on the wall.
Connecting a TV to the Internet via Wi-Fi provides a much more flexible option, allowing you to situate your TV anywhere in the home. However, this means that the Wi-Fi signal at the TV’s location must be fast enough as to not cause “lagging” of the picture. If the WI Fi signal at your TV is causing you problems, The IT Guys can assist in troubleshooting and fixing the problem (see below)
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