Question of the week: what’s your favourite TV catch-up service?

On Friday, the results of a survey into UK online TV catch-up services was announced. The Beeb’s iPlayer service came out top, Sky’s Sky Player bottom (yes, even ITV’s beat it). So this week’s question of the week is:

Which online TV catch-up service do you like best and why? And do you have a least favourite?

Mine, for what it’s worth, is the iPlayer, because

  1. You can access it everywhere – on an iPhone, an iPod in a web browser
  2. You can access it on the Wii, which means I can watch it on the tele
  3. It’s easy to find things and it’s well linked to within the BBC web site as well
  4. It has more or less everything, so you know that the chances are you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for 9 times out of 10 and not be wasting your time

In comparison:

  • The Sky Player sucks since it’s hard to use, doesn’t have much content, you can’t use it on iPhones, etc, and you have to link it to specific machines (up to five IIRC). At least it works on a Mac though.
  • ITV’s is awful but that’s mainly because of the programmes on it – although it actually has relatively few programmes.
  • 4oD I’m mixed over. Not usable on iPhones, etc, but does have a huge amount of content. If I could view it on my TV, that would be peachy but even though it’s available via YouTube now, it doesn’t show up on my Apple TV. Damn.

But how about you?

And yes, Americans and anyone else with their own catch-up services can answer this one.

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog




  • Jim Smith

    BBC iplayer. Anyone who answers otherwise is a cretin.

  • MediumRob

    “BBC iplayer. Anyone who answers otherwise is a cretin.”
    I didn’t consider for the commenting guidelines whether someone abusing other commenters before they’ve even commented is against the rules. Just pretend he didn’t say anything everyone.
    But Jim, what do you like about the iPlayer?

  • iPlayer is great although I’ve found it a little erratic on the Virgin box. It’s still a fantastic service though.
    4oD is great too as it has an incredible amount of material on the website and it’s weekly catchup service is available on the Virgin box.
    I found ITV’s service to be terrible when I used it last year and during the World Cup.

  • SK

    I don’t like watching on anything other than my TV — having spent the wodge of cash for a large flat screen in my living room, why on Earth would I watch anything on a tiny (albeit still flat) screen in my hand?!
    So my main criteria for these services is, which provides the most amount of material available through the Virgin line to my TV, so that I don’t have to watch it on the computer?
    And — though I have experienced the same flakiness as Aaron — iPlayer definitely wins there. Especially the series stacking, which is only available from iPlayer.
    What this means is that everything I miss and want to watch on iPlayer is available on my big TV screen, whereas often if it’s something on another channel — like last week’s True Blood — I have to go upstairs to the computer.
    Second, interestingly enough, is Channel (né Virgin) One, though that might just be because they have so little non-filler-repeat content that it’s fairly cheap and easy for them to chuck it all up on the catch-up service. It’s on that I’ve been watching Chuck for the last few weeks.
    (Sadly though I can’t think of a way to watch the new series on Living, as you can’t get it on Freeview so I can’t record it to the hard disk, so even if I paid for the extra subscription to get it on Cable I’d never be in to see it (as I have no intention of paying for a Virgin+ box as well)).

  • bob

    When I watch itv, channel 4 or 5 programmes (yes, very rare in the case of itv and channel 5), I tend to google and get a link to the page of the show on which I can just hit play. In contrast, with the iPlayer I go to a dedicated site and then browse through by category (usually) to the show I want.
    Now, maybe this isn’t the only way of navigating to get to the telly. But it is the way I do it. And because of this, I get the impression that iPlayer has an identity. I see a page upon which it gives me recommendations and presents me with popular and good shows that I wouldn’t otherwise know about.
    So although it isn’t a particularly direct way to get to a programme, I prefer going through iPlayer for the experience, because it feels more like watching the bbc than streaming a tv show.

  • iPlayer: we currently have Virgin box so sometimes this is watched through the ‘Catch Up / On demand’ service. I prefer this if possible as I can watch on my TV, but the computer option is nice too. Mostly I like it that with ITV/C4 programmes watched through the Virgin box, there’ no annoying ads (yes, I KNOW that’s how the channel is funded). My awareness of ads is highlightged whenever I miss anything on Five/Fiver (e.g. Burn Notice) because watching those on the computer is enough to make you scratch your eyes out.