How to watch live UK TV on iPad

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It was the day England was playing against Nigeria in the world cup. I was driving to my friend’s house to watch the game but I was stuck in stop and go traffic in a small residential road. I had never tried to watch live TV on iPhone so I thought let’s see if I can open ITV-Player in Safari. As I was suspecting this wasn’t possible. Why? Because ITV player similar to many other video players uses Flash technology to play video, and flash is not supported in iPhone or iPad. Frustrated, I decided to get to the bottom of this and find out exactly how I can watch live TV on my iPhone. I spent the whole week reading reviews, Googling and testing different apps. Here are my findings.

BBC, ITV, channel 4, and channel 5

On the BBC iPlayer website you can watch the BBC channels live and you can watch previously recorded programs. On ITV player, Channel 4 On Demand, and channel 5 websites you get to see only previously recorded programs. Now if you try to open any of these websites in your iPhone or iPad browser (Safari) unfortunately you won’t be able to watch the TV programs. The only exception is BBC iPlayer which allows you to watch only the previously recorded programs on iPhone (but not iPad, at the time of writing this post).

So is there a way to watch live TV on iPhone?

The answer is yes. You can watch pretty much all the standard free view digital channels on TVCatchup.com and the best part is that you don’t even need to download an app for this and it is completely free. How that is possible and how long is this going to last? I don’t know but I would say make the most of it while it lasts! All you have to do is to point your browser to this address:

To watch on iPhone:

Go to: http://iphone.tvcatchup.com

To watch on iPad:

Go to: http://ipad.tvcatchup.com

You can watch the following channels live:

live tv channels available on iPhone

What about the quality?

Surprisingly good, particularly BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, and Channel 5 which all play in high quality.

I watched BBC1, BBC2 and ITV over my home Wi-Fi and all streamed beautifully with good quality (ok maybe not perfect but very good). One thing I noticed is that on all three channels there was an exact 40 second time delay, and yes I timed this with my iPhone stopwatch (a true geek). Next I tested the channels over 3G. I switched off the WiFi on iPhone and was on O2 3G full 5 bar reception and… “Yes results I am super excited! I am watching live BBC1 very good quality over the 3G Network.” The delay is the same as on WiFi, 40 second. The Tvcatchup.com service was actually launched at the end of 2009 so not entirely new but it’s the first time am using it.

How can I watch the Sky sport channels on my iPhone?

how to watch skye on iPhone

The Sky Mobile TV app allows you to watch Sky Sports 1,2 and 3 as well as Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Extra, Sky News, At The Races and ESPN.

The Sky Mobile TV app currently works over Wi-Fi. Sky iPhone tariffs include unlimited Wi-Fi access over BT Openzone and The Cloud Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK (including most Starbucks).

The app is free but you have to pay a monthly subscription to be able to watch the TV channels. £6/month for iphone and £35 for iPad. The user comments are mixed on this one. There are many positive comments but also some concerns and complaints have risen over the streaming quality and the high price for iPad subscription. I haven’t yet tested the sky streaming myself so if you are a subscriber please share your thoughts on this.

A few apps for watching live internet from around the world

SlingPlayer Mobile Price £17.99

SlingPlayer iPhone

This is a slightly different proposition. SlingPlayer is for slightly more advanced users who want to get all their standard TV channels live streamed their iPhone. It is also costly and takes some setting up.

So how does it work? Hook up a SlingBox Solo or Pro to your home network and TV equipment, and it takes your TV signal, encodes it, and streams it over the internet. Install SlingPlayer Mobile on your iPhone or iPod touch to do the same.

SlingBoxes integrate with almost any hardware – Sky+, Apple TV, cables boxes – and can control them remotely. But the setup is expensive – £112 for a SlingBox Solo, plus the cost of the app which is £17.99. The good news is that the latest version 1.2 now supports viewing over 3G.

OrbLive by Orb Networks. Price £5.99

OrbLive for IPhoneWorks similar to SlingPlayer with the difference that Orb streams the video programs from you computer. You don’t need a separate box like Slingbox but you will need a TV tuner in your computer.

Orb works by recording live TV on a personal computer, which is then accessible on the owner’s Apple device using the Safari web browser. It requires a £70 TV tuner card and £5 Apple app to work.

TVU by TVU Networks Corporation. Price £2.99

TVU Player iPHoneAllows you to watch live TV from more than 300 channels worldwide. It costs £2.99 and works over WiFi only at this time. The basic features it includes are favourites, search, and landscape mode viewing. Also, there is no limit on the amount of time you can watch TV.

I have tried TVU and like many others must say the picture quality is generally very unreliable. You are able to check the signal strength for channels and I must say that from my experience many channels have low signal strength resulting in buffering and cut offs. If you are looking for some very special focus channel or foreign language channel this might be for you. For example there is a channel only dedicated to single dads and another one is for black belt karate viewers.

Justin.tv By Justin.tv Free

JustinTVThis one is more of a social media TV where everybody can create their own channel and stream it live on Justin.tv. Watch live video and participate in chat or share your favourite channels with friends.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

mark
posted on 11 April 2011

Sweet, You can also use mobile tv elite to watch tv on ipad

Robbie
posted on 14 September 2011

Can you stream TV from overseas on your mobile, then view this on your actual TV using apple TV?

Niall
posted on 22 September 2011
Hot Dogs
posted on 18 October 2011

Just download the BBC iPlayer (iPad Only), ITV Player, 4OD, Demand 5 (Only Big Brother available at the moment, most channels coming later this year) apps from the App Store.

Dude
posted on 26 November 2011

Can some one please tell me why I can watch tv catchup and programmes like that on my OLD iPhone 3GS but I can’t watch it on the iPad ..only through wifi ……….I can’t be right?????????? Thanks.

Gromit
posted on 04 December 2011

You missed out Eyetv.com which streams from any mac to iPad

افلام
posted on 21 December 2011

Good posting, im subscribing to your rss. Many thanks once more

Phillip
posted on 21 December 2011

http://liveabroad.televisionbbcnewstv.com/2011/08/live-abroad-with-uk-sky-tv-on-ipad-iphone-tv-laptop-or-pc-for-10/

Only £6 a month for USA AND British TV! Very professional service & nothing out there that can compete really. Highly recommended.

KAI
posted on 19 March 2012

I share you a software-GetFLV, it can help you download Demand 5 | Channel 5 videos/TV/movies/shows for free. You can download it from http://www.superlogix.net/Channel5-downloader/index.htm

snail vs monsters
posted on 19 May 2012

I ‘ve used JTV …pretty good.

Ibukun
posted on 17 July 2012

I have watched live TV using tvcatchup on my iPod touch plenty of times and you are correct, it has a very good picture quality. Thanks for this post!!

Paul
posted on 30 September 2012

Unfortunately we have our iPad registered in Spain, which blocks us from watching UK via TVCatchup.com. Gutted.

Melpear
posted on 10 January 2013

Is it possible to watch local uk tv on your Ipad

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