Catch-up TV and video streaming services


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Catch-up TV and video streaming

A graphic showing a smart TV accessing lots of content via the internet

What's coming up?

This activity will explain more about catch-up TV and video streaming services, and what you will need to access them at home or on your mobile device.

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Recap: What is streaming?

The term streaming refers to the delivery of audio and video – such as TV shows, music, movies, and podcasts – over the internet in real time. Unlike downloaded audio and video, streaming media is not stored on your device for you to watch later. Instead, you watch it as it's being transmitted from the internet.

A smart TV showing a tennis game being streamed over the internet
SBS On Demand, Netflix and Stan are all examples of video streaming services that can be watched over the internet

Video streaming services

Streaming TV shows, movies and other videos can usually be viewed on demand by signing up to free catch-up TV or paid, subscription-based services that allow members to watch shows whenever they like.

A bit like the good old days when we had a local video store nearby, but now you don't need to leave your home.

What you can stream?

Viewing entertainment on a smart device from a free or paid streaming service allows you to play movies or programs whenever you want.

Also, just like a DVD or video tape, you can pause, fast-forward or rewind the movie or show and watch it more than once.

A tablet playing a video from a streaming service
A smart TV and a tablet showing the apps that can be used to stream content

Accessing streaming services

As we have mentioned above, there are two types of streaming service: paid and free. The quality of both is usually very good, the difference being that the free service will include advertisements, just as you will find with most free-to-air TV.

Smart TVs come with apps that allow you to access certain streaming services, or you can download apps from the App Store or Google Play to access them on your mobile device.

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eSafety tip

All paid and most free streaming services require you to create an account with them before you can view their programs. You can find out more on their websites.

Paid streaming services will also need you to confirm a payment method, and that is usually a credit card. It's a good idea to check their terms and conditions to ensure your privacy and security are protected, plus their cancellation policy before you sign up.

Internet connection

Because streaming services use the internet, you'll need to ensure you have a high-speed internet connection that will allow you to watch your movies and TV shows.

Streaming services require a stable internet connection that allows you to use a large amount of data.

A smart TV showing a movie being streamed over the internet
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eSafety tip

Streaming TV and movies will use significant amounts of internet data, whether you are streaming into your home or to your mobile device. Always check with your internet service provider if you are in doubt as to whether your internet connection includes enough data to stream content.

The logos for Netflix, Stan, Apple TV+ and Amazon's Prime Video

Paid streaming services

The paid streaming market is growing rapidly. Gone are the days of having to wait a week to see the next episode of your favourite show. Now, you can watch whole seasons in one sitting or at a time that best suits you.

Examples of major paid streaming services are Netflix, Stan, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime.

How do paid services work?

Most paid streaming services use a subscription model where they charge customers on a monthly basis. This subscription fee gives you access to most, if not all content on their platform, including movies, TV shows, documentaries and more.

While there are many suppliers in Australia, here are handy links to some major and reputable paid streaming services:

A graphic of a monthly subscription fee for Netflix.
An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

Using the major paid streaming services is relatively safe, though you should always take precautions when using your credit card to pay for things online.

Many services offer a free trial period, so check the terms and conditions to ensure you can cancel your subscription without penalty before the end of the free trial and avoid ongoing charges.

Free to air catch-up TV channels can be viewed on smart TVs and mobile devices

Unpaid streaming services and catch-up TV

In Australia, all of the major TV networks (SBS, ABC, Channels 7, 9 and 10), have a free streaming and catch-up TV service.

Once a program has been aired at the normal time, you can often find it on these services. They also provide other programs and films, and they usually keep the list of programs updated, so there may be a time limit as to how long a program is available.

Unpaid streaming providers

You can find out more information on the free streaming and catch-up TV services available in Australia using the following handy links:

The logos for SBS On Demand, ABC iview, 7Plus, 9now, 10Play and YouTube
An example of an ad that can appear when watching free to air catch-up TV channels

Advertising and unpaid streaming services

Unpaid streaming services have advertisements both within the app and during the TV show or movie. Even if the TV channel doesn't normally have commercials, such as the ABC, they may still put ads for their other programs in their free content.

For commercial TV channels, advertisements pay for the service to run and mean that these apps and programs are available free of charge to you.

An icon of a padlock

eSafety tip

Getting started with on demand or catch-up TV depends on the service you are trying to watch and the type of TV you have. Many remote controls come with special buttons for specific paid services, such as Netflix, or you can see the list of apps available by clicking the remote control's Home button.

Some free service apps can be activated on your TV by clicking on them with your remote control and then following the instructions to register. You may need to have your computer or other device handy to complete the registration process.

Other services, such as paid options, need you to download an app to your computer or smartphone/tablet first, and then link your TV to the app.

You can find out more by using the handy links in the above panels to access the services' websites, where more detailed instructions will be available.

Well done!

You've completed the Catch-up TV and video streaming activity.

You should now know what a streaming service is and what you need to be able to use a streaming service. The next activity, All about YouTube, will look at the amazing world of free video content available at that website.

A smart TV and a tablet displaying different types of free streaming content