Watch UK TV online for free – or stream to TV when poor signal locally

With some maintenance going on one of my local TV masts over the last week, I’ve only been able to get “group 1” digital TV (mainly BBC channels, no ITV, Channel 4, E4, Channel 5…). After some frustration at this, and several attempts to tune into other masts (using manual search based on UHF channel info from ukfree.tv), to no avail, I went hunting online for a streaming option.

Be very careful with free online streaming, as there are some very dodgy TV sites out there from which my neighbour has caught several viruses.

TVCatchup.com however isn’t dodgy, and so far as I can tell, is completely legal (for use only by those living within the UK and paying for a TV license). It enables streaming of live TV, and having checked it out, I’m very impressed, an advert at the start, and then straight into “live” TV, which appears to be about 10 seconds behind my digital signal here. I should mention that it supports most of the free freeview channels – full list.

What’s more, with a bit of playing around, I put it through my TV, so it was as though the mast issues weren’t there!

How I did it

  1. Connected laptop to TV via audio cable (headphones out on laptop to Red and White audio inputs on TV)
  2. Connected laptop to TV via S-Video cable (S-Video out on laptop to S-Video input on TV) – Note: There are other options, I’ve done S-Video on laptop to Yellow Video socket before too.
  3. Changed laptop display settings to display on laptop and via S-Video using IBM Presentation Director (for IBM/Lenovo laptops)
  4. Opened TVCatchup.com – signed in with free id, and selected channel required
  5. When streaming started, I selected full scene option in the bottom menu (only appears when you hover the mouse at the bottom of the screen)

Quality

Really very impressive, similarly to the BBC iPlayer on normal setting I think. It is noticable on the screen that its streamed, as it’s slightly slower frame rate, and colours aren’t clean and perfect, but you don’t notice after a while, and it’s more than enough to see quite fine detail. Well worth having in-place for those occasions when you need it.

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