Sometimes living in a foreign country can be lonely but one way to keep in touch with home and get a little light relief is to watch On Demand Television (or Catch Up Television) on your computer. It’s the perfect way to keep up with current affairs back home as well as your favorite television shows while you’re living and teaching on the other side of the world.
Quite simply On Demand or Catch Up television allows you to watch TV program from back home wherever you are in the world.
Another alternative are streaming sites (see below).
How On Demand TV Works
Most major television channels have websites where they allow viewers to watch recently broadcast program. These “catch up” services vary with some channels offering almost all their programs online whilst others offer just highlighted programs or clips. Some channels offer the program for just a few days, others for many months.
This means that if you have a computer and a decent internet connection you can watch a program from your home country even if you are overseas.
However, there is a caveat to this. When you check out the websites you’ll find that they automatically check your IP address (the identification address of your computer) and using this they can identify where you are located. They will then often block you from viewing program if you are not in the country. So, for example, you can watch the BBC if you are in the United Kingdom but not if you are in Japan; you can watch NBC if you are in the USA but not if you are in China, and so on.
To get around this you can use an IP spoof. Instead of connecting from your computer to the television website, you use an IP spoof (which is a small piece of software) to connect to a computer in another country and thence to the television website. Thus, for example, if you are based in Vietnam and want to watch Australian television, you tell your IP spoof to connect to a server in Australia and then when you connect to the television website it checks and “sees” that you are in Australia and shows the program as normal.
Although there are several IP spoofs on the market, perhaps the most well known and most efficient is Hide My Ass which costs about $80 USD (€63, £51) per year. This will allow you to connect to pretty well any country’s television network website and view the content there. Setting up the IP spoof is very easy and simple to do and well worth it if you are living abroad and don’t want to miss your favorite TV shows from back home.
Note, since late 2015 Hide My Ass is not functioning with the BBC in the UK and many users are complaining about problems with speed and its overall efficiency. You might want to look at other solutions now.
One further advantage of using an IP spoof is to get around internet censorship. Some countries routinely block certain websites for political purposes so whilst you might be able to freely read various sites in, say, the USA you might find those sites restricted in, say, China. Using an IP spoof will often get around these issues.
Television Catchup Sites
The list below gives the major channels for each country and where you can find their catchup service.
- Channel 4
- Channel 5
United States of America
- Comedy Central
Streaming sites effectively just broadcast television channels over the internet. Sometimes these are less popular channels but some streaming services offer good quality sites as well. Some of the most popular offers many American and British channels for free. (There is a paid version which offers channels in HD.)
They can be viewed either through a browser or through an app so it can be seen on a laptop or iPad, smartphone, etc.