What is streaming?
We’ll start with the basics: streaming is viewing content online from a source or provider. Any time you are receiving data, you are in fact downloading, and with streaming you download as you watch, but once you have finished, it won’t be saved onto your device.
Whether you want to catch up on the latest episodes of your favourite programme or want to watch the latest DVD releases, streaming offers a convenient way to do just that.
For all the information you need, read our handy guide to streaming.
Who offers streaming services?
There is a wide range of streaming services available, all offering fantastic content for competitive monthly fees. Premium on demand providers, like Netflix, Blinkbox from Tesco and NOW TV powered by Sky, are three of the most popular UK services.
Once you’ve set up your account, you can begin to browse through the library until you come to something that you want to watch. Simply click on the play icon and you’ll be streaming in no time.
However, it’s not just these services you can use, with live TV channels also getting on the streaming bandwagon so you don’t miss out on any crucial TV moments. BBC iPlayer, All 4 and ITV Player are all websites where you have a limited time to watch previously aired shows. Although you don’t pay a monthly fee, you are required to have a valid TV licence, so make sure you have one.
As well as NOW TV, Sky is also giving their customers the convenience of catching up online with their Sky Go service. Depending on the TV package you have, you’ll be able to look up programmes that have been aired on the channels you pay for. For example, if you have Sky Movies and Sky Sports, you can access that content using Sky Go.
Can anyone access streaming services?
If you have an adequate broadband allowance and connection, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to stream content.
The dedicated on demand providers usually offer free trials, so you can test your connection and quality before you part with any money.
What’s more, streaming is available on TV, smartphones, game consoles and tablets, making it even more convenient to watch online content. However, there is a limitation to how many devices can be connected to a certain account.
Here, we have broken down how many devices can be connected per provider:
Netflix - 6 devices
NOW TV - 4 devices, but only two can stream from one account at the same time.
Sky Go - 2 devices or 4 with Sky Go Extra, however you can only change one of them per calendar month.
Be wary of who you give your account information to, as it is your personal account with private information, and with the device restriction you may be reducing your own access to, and value from, the service by allowing others to use it.
Other sites, such as BBC iPlayer and All 4 are available as a communal hub, with no sign-in needed; therefore anyone will be able to access content at the same time even if the devices are all connected to one broadband router.
So, if I have a broadband connection I can stream?
Technically yes, however it is advisable to have at least 15-20Mb download speeds in order to enjoy streaming without buffering interruptions.
We personally think a fibre-optic broadband is without doubt the best option for streaming, because it offers a smoother viewing experience and is less likely to give you the annoying buffering icon when you’re just about to get to the best bit of a film.
Before you pay to stream, also be sure to check your broadband allowance. Streaming can take a toll on your monthly usage, so if you become addicted to streaming you may want to consider unlimited broadband deals, which you can get with some great value digital TV packages.