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back to article IPTV UK: what's on tonight?

IPTV Week logo 2012 looks like it stands a good chance of being the year that IPTV really starts to go mainstream, with more services and a good range of content appearing built in to TVs and other devices, not to mention the web. And, of course, the launch of YouView will help raise the profile of IPTV still further in the …

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Alert

What about the WAF?

or Wife Approval Factor.... how well will the family get on with accessing these services in from of the telly, and from what I have seen, not very well yet.

An issue with a lot of these is that you cannot access them from a single unified frontend, although XBMC and Boxee come close. I'm a long running Mythtv user, but it has very limited support for streaming services like these especially UK based ones. The wiki entry for netflix advises running a virtual XP machine on your myth server.

Really don't want a windows box under the telly - Got a plan for a Raspberry Pi running XBMC velcroed to the back, when I can lay my hands on one for a sensible price.

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Bronze badge

In my family

WAF is much better than rented DVDs from lovefilm, but that is mostly because it (blinkbox) can be used to silence the kids on minutes notice.

Price-wise it's so-so, one have to be careful not to pay over the nose buying poor movie. Also the choice is far from great, if you want to view something else than blockbusters of yesteryear

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Anonymous Coward

Not bad, so far...

@gaz 7: "how well will the family get on with accessing these services in from of the telly, and from what I have seen, not very well yet."

We're trying that experiment now. We have an AppleTV hooked up to the telly, and drive it variously from iPhones, iPods touches, and an iPad. The ability to stream anything on the Macs in the household coupled with iPlayer and other TV streaming apps (and the fact that the TV becomes a huge display for games etc on the iPhone et al) is brilliant. Everyone's handled the transition well, but the unreliability of streamed media stands out as a major irritation. You can't really be certain that you can see a program uninterrupted from beginning to end.

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Anonymous Coward

re: What about the WAF?

Well, I run XBMC on a jailbroken apple tv 2, and iPlayer's HD content works really nicely, if that helps.. The interface is OK, and it all supports the Apple remote with the minimum of faffing about.

(The Jailbreak is easy as hell, too- it's called "Seas0npass" if you want something to google)

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Sony Bravia helps with WAF - ITV and C4 could be more helpful though.

Our new Sony Bravia Freeview HD telly has BBC iPlayer built in and by connecting an external HDD it's easy to record programmes - even HD ones. The nice surprise for me has been how well the set plays HD content from iPlayer - this is over a 5MB connection from Demon. iPlayer is integrated really nicely and fully complies with WAF.

There are however a couple of things which could make the TV perfect:

1. Series link recording - currently you have to select each programme to record.

2. Addition of ITV Player and C4 catchup player to the existing iPlayer and C5 player.

3. Ability to plug in a CD/DVD/BluRay player to play music/films.

4. Ability to play music from di.fm or other internet sources.

That would make the TV a fully fledged media centre which should pass WAF with flying colours!

Please note - Other Freeview/HD/IPTV's are available.

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Meh

It just gets worse

Our village has poor broadband, 1/2 MB is pretty good going, and there are no plans to improve it even though we are less than 4 miles from a major town. There must be many places where they'll get left behind. The current thinking is that 90% of the population will get a decent speed, but that still means 6,000,000 without.

We don't have gas either, but are only 1/4 mile from the main supply to Leeds and beyond.

Still, we have two pubs!

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Childcatcher

IPTV, the downside

Is that the distributors get to know what you are watching.

Then they sell that to the advertisers.

Try explaining the to the wife why adverts for 'Hot women chatlines' that suddenly start appearing on your TV in the middle of Corrie?

I'm sure some statto somewhere will start compiling facts aboyt who watches what and what changes.

How Sex Chatlines followed by Divorce Lawyers 4 U and then Estate Agents.

Whoope-de-do.

Do we really want our private lives exposed even more?

I'll make do with Broadcast FreeView/FreeSat and a PVR

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Not bothered about advertisers but...

...it does show the problem of user preferences. I've got Netflix working on a few devices around the house (PC, PS3 in the living room and a Wii upstairs where the missus gives our new baby his night feeds). Actually a decent user experience setting it up, but Netflix relies heavily on your viewing behaviour to present recommended content; my behaviour (catching up on old action movies mainly) and the missus' (Downton bloody Abbey and documentaries) are rather different. Even if Netflix allows different logins on the same account (not sure it does), its hardly "frictionless" to keep switching passwords. As my kids get older and start using this type of service, its only going to get worse.

My other frustration is that all the UK catch up services aren't available on TV in Ireland, even where they ARE available on PC (e.g. 4OD), and only Netflix and Acetrax are available in the VOD category. I have a suspicion the rights landscape is going to create a big digital divide for TV content in smaller countries.

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Re: IPTV, the downside

Yes ... advertisers guessing what you are interested in from past history can be very irritating ... after buying a birthday present for a friends young daught I had months of emails from Amazon telling me "as someone who's bought Sylvanian Families in the past you may be interested in ..." - eventually I investigated and found out how you can click on a link to tell Amazon to ignore the history that is leading to this.

Then recently having upgraded my phone to something that can display flash adverts and not having AdBlockPlus available in default browser (hmm maybe time to switch!) I'm seeing ads ... was quite interesting to realize after researching electric guitars for son's Christmas present that I was suddenly getting ads for the shop I'd bought it from all over the place .... but now, as a result of looking for info on how to fix a leaking toilet, I'm being bombarded with ads for flush mechanisms!

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Big Brother

IPTV, the downside →

targetted ads based on preference

Tesco, very helpfully, already do that with their boody clubcard. Not p0rn, but the missus nearly found out about my secret addiction to ginsters crack filled pasties.....

Tend not to use the card any more when I shop now.... Every little helps - err no it bloody doesnt...

1984 and big brother cos, well we've brought it on ourselves...

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Unhappy

Subtitles

I would be interested to know what the subtitle support is like. I'm hard of hearing and a big frustration for me is that many TV services have very poor support for subtitles. This includes non-IP platforms like Sky, which has a very poor implementation of subtitles with big blocky text obscuring too much of the screen, which often don't work, even when they are provided which isn't as often as you might imagine. And then they can be out of synch.

Apple TV does support subtitles I believe, but the only ones I've been able to find are the ones hard-coded into foreign films. Lovefilm certainly doesn't support subbies.

And they wonder why illegal downloading is popular.

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Subtitles on a Sony Bravia...

...are pretty good. If you record a programme to an external HDD you can then switch them off/on during playback. And the subtitles on HD programmes are far less blocky and intrusive.

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Anonymous Coward

In other words

It's all a mess.

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TVCatchup

What about services like TVCatchUp? Has a nice WMC plugin and is effectively realtime IPTV.

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It's also still too pricey

When they're asking £2 - £3 an episode, you might as well subscribe to the full package with either of the incumbents - it'll work out cheaper. In an average week the TV is maybe on here for 5-6 hours a day between us, so let's be really generous and say 5 one hour episodes (most are shorter) at £2. Or, around £280 a month to replace TV with IPTV.

Knock it down to 1/5th of that and we're talking. Of course the ISPs will then put their prices up to cover the increased bandwidth use... so you can't win.

Youview sounds good. Neflix and lovefilm are a joke unless you like movies over 5 years old (and *somebody* tell Netflix that 'Chitty Chitty bang bang' is not scifi!). Blinkbox has so many adverts it's basically unwatchable (When the adverts are so intrusive you can't follow the story any more, what's the point?) .

I'm also looking at Raspberry Pi to help (waiting for a plex client) to improve the WAF on my existing setup (since new TVs are totally out of the question in the current economic climate) enough so I can tell VM where to shove it. When that's gone there's money waiting for an IPTV provider that doesn't suck, when one appears.

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WTF?

Not sure how/when, but...

Spotted NetFlix seems to have appeared magically under the "Internet" menu of my apple TV... which is XBMCd and set to skip any auto updates. Hmmmmmmmmm.

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Anonymous Coward

The image shown in TFA is what used to be the Wii interface to the iplayer.

It's a fat finger friendly interface which, unlike the main page, doesn't do retarded user agent checks so you can connect with pretty much anything.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/

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WTF?

All about the bandwidth

So the IPTV world thinks HD means DVD quality!

Don't underestimate the bandwidth you can achieve by bringing back a BluRay disc from Block Buster - 30 to 40 GByte/trip is something like 100TX ethernet and once it's home will play from start to finish.

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High Latency though.

What if you get half way through your Blu-Ray Hi Def version of 'Meet the Fockers' - realise it's terrible and then want to watch something else?

Bandwidth isn't everything!

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Silver badge
Joke

Are you telling me you'd be halfway through Meet the Fockers before you realised it was terrible?

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Anonymous Coward

Streaming

I have an HTPC with a DVR card so generally I just record stuff directly to that machine. Then I can just watch the files on my laptop during my commutes.

iPlayer is probably the best of the streaming services and surprisingly doesn't require a TV license to access the content. But there's occasionally stuff that they don't put up (Match of the day arrives half way through the following week) so for that I'll hit up UKNova/TheBox and other specialist download sites (RacingForMe for all types of car/bike racing). Wiziwig for streaming sport if there's no channel showing it in the UK.

Eurosport Player for just £3.99 per month is amazing and is probably the service I watch most. Always loved Eurosport coverage from the old analogue satellite days. SkyGo is good as well as there's a few of us who have clubbed together to share a subscription, Sky Sports is poor value if you have to pay full whack.

I'm vaguely tempted by the LoveFilm Instant thing (not been bothered with physical media for a few years now, I've got enough DVDs and CDs and definitely don't need more) but I wish there was a way of just paying a couple of quid to stream a film for a week or so rather than taking out a monthly subscription. I believe YouTube now has a paid-for one-off film streaming service though but I don't think there's much on there as yet.

iTunes I can't really comment on as I've never used it and hopefully never will.

But generally torrent downloads from super-private trackers is superior to streaming. You can download at 5x faster than the speed of watching the program. I can watch it on any device that file format. And I can watch it when not connected to the internet. I spend alot of time travelling and having films that I want to watch on long flights is much better than watching a heavily cut version of Miss Congeniality 2 Cruise Control or some other drivel that the airline has decided that must watch.

Streaming services still can't beat that flexibility and probably never will. Let me pay a few quid to download a file of a film that I can delete if it's cack or keep for a while if it's good (rare), then I would be interested.

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Bronze badge

"Let me pay a few quid to download a file of a film that I can delete if it's cack " ... and get your money back?

If you aren't asking for it, this is similar to how blinkbox works : your purchased movies are attached to your account and you can stream or download them (WMA with DRM, IIRC) at any time you want and any number of times. The price is not very competitive though, often above what you would pay for DVD at Amazon.

There are no refunds though. If you think the movie could be not worth the purchase, you can "rent" it which gives you right to view by streaming or download (must be some DRM here) within 24 hours. But you can't purchase movies you rented before with a discount, meaning if you rented something and liked it, you must pay again to see it again after 24 hours. This is quite silly.

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Anonymous Coward

Until blinkbox goes away taking your "purchases" with it. Frankly, purchases tied to accounts is simply not sustainable. Pretty soon you're going to have 5 different accounts all with different purchases that you never owned in the first place.

I'd rather get a dvd, at least I won't have to worry about not being able to watch it a few years down the line and can still rip to non DRM'd up the pooper files that do, really, play everywhere.

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Bronze badge

well the point about making "purchases" in the cloud is that I don't give a sh* about physically owning *certain* things; they are not worth storage space on my shelf (yes, physical space is expensive if you live in rented flat). There are DVDs, Blu-Rays and CDs I like to own, but it's not your average yesteryear blockbuster production.

There is contradition here I know - when movie "on the cloud" is more expensive than DVD from Amazon then something is wrong.

I *guess* the problem is production cartels setting end consumer price, they don't give sh* since they virtually own monopoly on film production. Lack of competition is bad for consumers, who would have thought of that?

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Silver badge

They can ram it

I have cable, I get ComedyCentral.

Can I use the ComeyCentral catch-up service? Can I cock.

Epic fail.

There is one place, on Internet. Stop it already with the false barriers to trade.

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Who's going to pay for all the extra bandwidth?

Wasn't it recently that the telecoms were complaining that video streaming was taking too much bandwidth?

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Happy

Give this a try

http://www.unblock-us.com/?v=2

Tried it out to see if it works and WOW

When enabled my pc works as if in the USA so I can see Hulu ABC etc etc

And when I go to netflix it shows the USA version of the site with mega loads of content on the same login.

For $4.99 a month to add so much extra VOD without having to set up vpn and DNS etc its a great way of seeing what you can't otherwise

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Any site that tries to make me install Silverlight before i can stream a videos aren't going to work for me, already got one bloated proprietary plugin in the form of Adobe flash that i had to install to make some website work correctly and i don't want to have to install another.

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Unhappy

"World+Dog is familiar with BBC iPlayer on the web..."

Yes, we know it only works in the UK

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Silver badge

Just like Hulu

Why the hell the BBC simply doesn't let non-UK residents pay a "licence fee" to watch beats the heck out of me.

Oh yes....artificial barriers to free trade.

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Facepalm

Wherefore art thou YouView

I was hoping YouView was going to be the one box, unified frontend, PVR, catch-up TV and apps for everything (lovefilm, netflix etc.) but not had any news for ages! :(

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Anonymous Coward

@Big_Ted Hope you don't get extradited to the US for that post lol

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Content, Accessibility and Price.

Not enough content and too slow. Not universally available and easy to access. Too expensive for run once streams.

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Unhappy

Too fiddly

"Not everyone is prepared to connect their computer to the TV to give them access to the whole range of sites."

Well plugging a HDMI lead in to a modern laptop and looking for what you want on a streaming service using a keyboard to type in search terms, is far quicker than struggling to enter letters with a TV or STB remote control. You are faced with at best a plodding phone style keypad (lost the knack now I'm using Swype on a Galaxy S rather than an old Nokia), and at worst an excruciatingly painful on-screen keyboard - I'm looking at you iPlayer.

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Freeview+ works fo rme

I keep reading about all this IPTV and on-demand services and I just think. I don't have the time or the inclination anymore to care that deeply about a TV series or even a film.

We record what we want on our Freeview+ box and then watch back as and when we want to.

We still go to shops so pick up DVDs (yes those disc things) for films we want to see.

I think we've used iPlayer twice since it's been launched because we forgot to record something.

None of this subscription service. Just pay the UK license and off you go.

Maybe when it is unified, easy and not crazy expensive I might consider it but for now it's all a bit limited with a big dose of lock in.

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Awful choice

Looking at these prices, the spread of content in a dozen different sites, the 'licensing' rather than purchase... I don't think Torrents are going anywhere soon. £4.99 for old doctor who? £11 for three eoisodes of Sherlock (within a walled garden, no less?). Make them 50p an episode and we're talking... this article should not have been a promo-sounding round-up, but a rant.

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Bronze badge
Linux

Wife and kids love XBMC

Kids really like XBMC so much so they refuse to watch regular telly because:

a) There is hardly anything interesting when they want to watch something.

b) They can not watch it more than once.

My 3 year old asked me once:

- Daddy play that again!

--I can't, it is broadcast TV

- Daddy use the remote

--Me: I try to explain to a 3 year old what broadcast is, and how we do not have control over it.

- Daddy I like what I saw and I want to watch it again, use the remote and click on it again.

--I will but you won't be seeing the same show... kid gets angry and makes a crying attempt.

- Do not worry Daddy will download that entire show for you and we will play it on the mediacenter (XBMC)

A few days back my two kids were explaining to a visiting friend of theirs what is what they and on TV, and why do they like it (XBMC)

In the words of a 3 year old:

XBMC is great because you can watch the shows you want as many times as you like, Telly is bad.

There you have it boys. Kids know what's good. For them watching TV is disappointing.

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Anonymous Coward

Millions left out...

... not that it's the end of the world or really much of a big deal in the grand scheme of things...

But only the cities and larger towns will truly be able to benefit from IPTV.

For the rest of us, streaming hi-def TV is either frustratingly erratic or downright impossible.

The problem is, it does seem unlikely the entire country will be pushed into the broadband fast lane - the economics probably simply aren't worth it.

I'm sure BT have done all the market research to determine which areas to upgrade and it'll obviously be those areas which are profitable and have the numbers.

I'm not sure what the exact figures are, as there's plenty of them about that conflict, but it seems even standard broadband speeds of 2mb/s and above are only available across 50% or less of the country.

Ah well, probably a good thing to be honest, too much TV is life destroying.

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DJP

Series catch up

The iPlayer app on our Samsung IPTV gives us series catch up, unlike the Virgin Catch Up service which is one week only, That's about all it gets used for. Sometimes buffers/fails in HD (20Mb package), but of course Richard and Usain are coming round personally sometime time in July to give me 40Mb.

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