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Live TV On Your iPhone

Posted on 8th Dec 2009 at 10:22 by Antony Leather with 23 comments

Antony Leather
On my way to work this morning I experienced something amazing. I watched live TV on my iPhone using a 3G signal, for free. That's right. No WiFi and no video file saved in my phone's precious storage. Just a plain, every day, boring old data connection. What's more - it worked nigh-on flawlessly as long as the 3G connection was upheld.

I've been using the TV streaming website TV Catchup for about a year now. I don't watch a great deal of TV, and if I don't have time to catch my favourite TV shows when they are on, I usually use TV Catchup. It's free, works brilliantly and it’s now available in free brilliance on the iPhone.

I was a bit sceptical at first, as most video services such as YouTube are stuttery and of poor quality over a 3G connection. However within 20 seconds of visiting TV Catchup on my iPhone, I was watching BBC News 24 in great quality, with no stuttering and I had the choice of 14 other channels too.

Live TV On Your iPhone Live TV on your iPhone

It was quite a surreal experience and, in keeping with most other iPhone features, using it was snappy and hassle free. The only downside is that 3G coverage outside of London is a bit sketchy on my carrier, O2, so the TV froze for a minute or so when venturing out in the sticks. There were a couple of long tunnels too which also saw it stop working momentarily.

However for a first attempt it's simply awesome and for those with a long bus journey through a 3G-saturated area such as London, it's excellent time-sinking entertainment. Have you tried TV Catchup's iPhone streaming service? What are your thoughts on mobile TV? Let us know in the comments.

23 Comments

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Jamie 8th December 2009, 12:57 Quote
It is a great service, I don't have an iPhone though so I can't try mobile streaming.
thefriscokid 8th December 2009, 12:57 Quote
Someone at my work was watching the world cup draw on their iphone (not sure what program they were using) and the quality was crystal clear. It certainly come a long way since It was offered on my n70 a few years ago.
Xir 8th December 2009, 14:37 Quote
TV Catchup wouldn't happen to work outside of the UK, would it?
Quote:
There were a couple of long tunnels too which also saw it stop working momentarily.
For some reason nearly all streamservices tend to think buffering is bad...it would help you on a flaky connection, but bad or slow connections don't exist in marketing dreams ;-)
Blademrk 8th December 2009, 14:47 Quote
Would eat through your bandwidth* though...


*200mb fair useage on O2 apparently
l3v1ck 8th December 2009, 16:35 Quote
I was going to say, mobile provider advertise "unlimited" downloads, but their definition of unlimited is even more ridiculous than ADSL providers. Less than 1Gb a month last time I looked.
How many episodes of Top Gear would that get you?
Combatus 8th December 2009, 16:51 Quote
One hour of streaming on the PC is about 350MB on TV Catchup apparently. Not sure what size the iPhone stream is yet but even if it's a third of that you're usage is going to skyrocket if you use it a lot.
Skiddywinks 9th December 2009, 00:21 Quote
I assume watching live TV requires you to own a TV license then, especially watching the Beeb's programmes?
Combatus 9th December 2009, 01:00 Quote
I assume so too although how they'd trace you over a 3G connection I have no idea. Maybe they'll be waiting for me at the next station or something when I'm next on the train! Unfortunately I have a licence but if they did that I'd be very impressed!
Turbotab 9th December 2009, 02:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
I assume so too although how they'd trace you over a 3G connection I have no idea. Maybe they'll be waiting for me at the next station or something when I'm next on the train! Unfortunately I have a licence but if they did that I'd be very impressed!

That would be easy. They would simply have to look for people staring at their iPhones, whilst walking into a lampost, all with a guilty look on their faces for hogging all O2's 3G network bandwidth. See you in Guantanamo:D
xaser04 9th December 2009, 09:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
I assume watching live TV requires you to own a TV license then, especially watching the Beeb's programmes?

IIRC the TV licence is only required if you are watching 'live' TV broadcasts (ie top gear at its normal time slot of 8pm).

I would imagine this catchup service is more like Iplayer whereby you don't need a tv licence as the shoes only appear after they have been shown on tv.

Although the TV licence thing is quite a grey area.

Does this service work on a I pod touch (via Wifi)?
Combatus 9th December 2009, 10:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaser04
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
I assume watching live TV requires you to own a TV license then, especially watching the Beeb's programmes?

IIRC the TV licence is only required if you are watching 'live' TV broadcasts (ie top gear at its normal time slot of 8pm).

I would imagine this catchup service is more like Iplayer whereby you don't need a tv licence as the shoes only appear after they have been shown on tv.

Although the TV licence thing is quite a grey area.

Does this service work on a I pod touch (via Wifi)?

It is actually live streaming. I watch top gear when it's on ie 9pm on a Sunday night.
badders 9th December 2009, 11:14 Quote
This is awesome. Was watching E4 whilst waiting for the wife at the station yesterday.
xaser04 9th December 2009, 11:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaser04
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiddywinks
I assume watching live TV requires you to own a TV license then, especially watching the Beeb's programmes?

IIRC the TV licence is only required if you are watching 'live' TV broadcasts (ie top gear at its normal time slot of 8pm).

I would imagine this catchup service is more like Iplayer whereby you don't need a tv licence as the shoes only appear after they have been shown on tv.

Although the TV licence thing is quite a grey area.

Does this service work on a I pod touch (via Wifi)?

It is actually live streaming. I watch top gear when it's on ie 9pm on a Sunday night.


Interesting, I stand corrected. In that case the TV licence question would be even more murky.
Highland3r 9th December 2009, 11:25 Quote
Nice app! Quite often stream live tele via iPlayer on my HTC (WiMo) using a web browser, it's really nice to be able to do it!
Shame 3G coverage is a bit crap on the move up this way!
Combatus 9th December 2009, 11:32 Quote
Thanks to a bit of lateral thinking by Sifter3000, I just ran it for 6 mins having reset my iPhone's usage history. It went up by 20MB meaning your downloading 3.33MB/min or 200MB/hr...
l3v1ck 9th December 2009, 15:40 Quote
200MB/hr. Better check your *fair usage policy*, quickly.
flaming_goat 9th December 2009, 23:27 Quote
I'm not having much success, it doesn't even work on the computer for me. Probably my slow connection.
kenco_uk 10th December 2009, 00:34 Quote
That's quite incredible, when it works. Just caught a bit of snooker on BBC2, although Fiver refused to play.
BLC 13th December 2009, 12:26 Quote
That's very cool - I've just been trying it out on my iPod Touch... The site doesn't appear to be compatible with my phone (HTC Touch Diamond), but... My phone does have a mobile wifi router app, and having just tested this, I can use my phone's connection on my iPod over wifi - and it works with this site. Very cool.

Yes, I know, an iPhone would be far easier... However I'm mid-way through a contract, so can't upgrade for nearly a year yet...
Rkiver 13th December 2009, 12:38 Quote
Am I the only one who thinks watching anything on screens that tiny is a waste of time? I enjoy not watching it in teeny-tiny-eyestrain-ovision, and on a decent sized screen.
Madness_3d 13th December 2009, 13:39 Quote
http://www.trustedreviews.com/mobile-phones/news/2007/11/05/O2-Lifts-Restrictions-on-iPhone-Fair-Usage-Policy-/p1

Still though I would have thought this would class as " continuous streaming of any audio/video content"
BLC 13th December 2009, 13:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rkiver
Am I the only one who thinks watching anything on screens that tiny is a waste of time? I enjoy not watching it in teeny-tiny-eyestrain-ovision, and on a decent sized screen.

Do you travel much?

I don't drive (lame, I know) so I have to catch the bus back & fore to work; mobile video like this - provided there's something good on! - is a godsend. Plus it's a hell of a lot easier than converting all my videos into iPod/iPhone format and importing them into iTunes....
wuyanxu 13th December 2009, 18:20 Quote
ah, TVcatchup finally streams to iPhone. fantastic!

now just need to upgrade from iPhone EDGE to 3GS in the distance future.....
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