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How Do I Watch TV Anywhere?

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  • Originally Written By: Mitch Morgan
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2016
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There are a couple of different ways to watch TV anywhere, and the strategy and tools you use will depend a lot on the sort of programming you’re trying to access. When people talk about watching TV anywhere they’re normally referring to the idea of accessing the programming on their home television remotely, either on a set located somewhere else or on a mobile phone, tablet, or other portable device. This often requires both a specialized connection at the home unit as well as the permission or authority of the broadcaster more generally. Some cable companies also allow customers to access television programming over the Internet, usually with a password or other keyed validation. This sort of access won’t normally stream to another television, but can be good for on-the-go watching via phone or tablet. A number of shows are also streamed online, either for a fee or with a subscription; these aren’t always available in real time, but they can frequently be watched on demand or repeated at will. Though the technology is advancing in the television arena, it can usually only grow as fast as local laws allow. As a result, things that are possible in one place may not be universal, as much because of broadcast laws as technological capability.

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Basic Concept

Television, when it was first introduced to the public, was largely a realm of fixed content: broadcasters decided what was going to air, when, and on what channel. The invention of recording devices allowed users to basically save content to watch later, and the technology has only grown and developed since then. Modern cable television companies regularly provide, for a fee, the ability to do things like record and store shows for later viewing, even while something else is playing.

The ability to watch content anywhere, whether stored or live, is still evolving. In most cases shows are fixed on the cable box or router that’s physically attached to the user’s television. Adding routers and other Internet-enabled tools can make stored content more mobile, though, which opens the door for more universal viewing, as well as viewing simultaneously across devices.

Creating a Hub

Physically relocating a television signal from one set to another usually requires a dedicated signal-switching device. Depending on where you live you might have a couple of options, but most of them work the same way. First you’ll need to install the box or card to the cable box where your content is stored at home. What this does is to basically make your home television the “hub” or central command center for all streaming operations.

In most cases, the hub is the ultimate controller, and in these sorts of setups it’s usually only possible for all connected televisions to be watching the same programming. As such, if you change channels on the home TV set from a remote location, anyone watching at home will have the channel changed as well. The same is usually true for programs that are recorded or stored. In most cases the main idea is to allow people to access their preferred channel lineups and content from anywhere, not to allow multiple users to simultaneously use the same connection for independent means.

Mobile Downloads

In many cases it’s also possible to access cable TV content over a wi-fi connection and view it directly from a variety of mobile devices. This is conceptually a bit different than sending it to another television, and in most cases the transmission requires a secure and stable Internet connection. It also usually requires devoted software, and in most cases cable providers require a range of passwords and authentication devices to prevent abuse.

The availability of these applications is limited to certain operating systems and mobile device capabilities, and may also vary by region and cellular service provider. Furthermore, some cell phone providers offer the option of viewing television over the phone without using any additional devices, though there is usually an additional fee for the service.

Streaming Online

Another option for those who want to watch TV anywhere is certain websites that have obtained the necessary licenses to offer television programming. The websites of major networks often offer this option as well. The image is usually not as high in quality as when viewed on TV and shows are rarely if ever available in real time, but the services can allow viewers to catch up on shows that they may have missed. All that is required is an Internet connection in most cases, through some sites are fee-based and charge a fee either for access generally or per show viewed.

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Discuss this Article

myharley
Post 15

Once in awhile I will watch TV on my PC, but it is not my first choice. We have a big flat screen TV that is awesome for watching TV on.

If I have a choice between watching my shows on a huge screen or a little computer screen, I will choose the big screen every time.

It is nice to know you have the option to watch your TV anywhere, but I still like to sit in my comfortable recliner and watch TV on a big screen.

With many people's lives becoming so mobile, I can see how this trend will probably continue. My grand kids will have no concept of what it was like when we only had 3 TV channels and one chance to watch a show.

SarahSon
Post 14

I have my favorite TV shows that I look forward to each week. After a long, busy day this gives me a chance to sit down and relax.

If I am busy and don't have a chance to watch a show when it is regularly scheduled, it is so nice knowing I have other options.

Once I learned how to watch TV on my computer, I no longer have to worry about not seeing missed episodes.

There were many times when I would forget to set the DVR, but with the availability of TV shows on the internet, I know I can watch them at any time.

If the TV show I am watching is in the middle of the season, I know that I don't have to miss any new shows. As long as I watch the missed episode before the next week, I haven't missed out on a thing.

bagley79
Post 13

@shell4life - Even though we might not be the norm, I feel like you do when it comes to escaping the constant sound of the TV.

This really sounds crazy to a lot of people, but we even canceled our satellite service because we found that it was a big waste of money for us.

We don't have much time to sit around and watch TV, and thought that money would be better spent somewhere else. I don't have any desire to know how to watch TV anywhere. I am much more content to read a book than I am to watch TV.

When I sit down at my computer, it is usually to work or look up

some kind of information. The last thing I think about doing is knowing how to watch TV on my PC.

I realize this is not for everybody, but I found that my life was much more productive when I didn't come home and watch TV all the time.

miriam98
Post 12

@nony - Thanks for the advice. I had seen those sites too but weren’t sure if they were legitimate. One thing that concerns me however is the regulations that may soon start affecting the Internet.

Some Internet providers are providing usage limitations on their bandwidth, particularly the DSL services. I don’t know if that has affected cable yet – but it might.

They know people are watching online more and may stop paying for satellite and cable. I hope we don’t get hit with a tiered approach to Internet usage. Then services like Netflix and others like it will become practically useless in my opinion.

There is definitely a tug of war going on between traditional broadcasters and the Internet. I hope the Internet stays open and unregulated.

nony
Post 11

@everetra - That’s an excellent point. You have basically two options: you can get these special devices the article talks about or you can watch TV on line, either for free or using streaming services with a monthly fee.

Since you are talking about avoiding illegal sites I would like to offer another caveat. Avoid sites that offer “services” where you can watch thousands of channels of TV programming without a satellite or cable connection for one simple fee.

These sites claim to offer you the same programming that you can get with satellite or cable, using their service alone. However, remember that legitimate devices plug into your existing satellite or cable connection.

Do you know what these

scam sites are really doing? They just point you to existing websites where you can watch TV for free! In other words, they are redirecting you to stuff that already exists online, and then charging you a fee for it. Save your money.

everetra
Post 10

Personally I wouldn’t bother with a standalone device if I wanted to watch TV anywhere in the world. I can watch TV shows (mostly recorded) online for free.

I try to stick with the legitimate sites of course. These are sites where broadcast channels have licensed the hosting of previous episodes of their shows. They build a revenue stream because they include advertising in the TV shows just like they do with the live programming.

There are other sites that are illegal, and host programming that has been downloaded from a pirate site, or which points to sites in China where the United States can’t do much about it.

Stay away from those sites. Beyond the fact that it’s wrong, your IP address can be tracked. So if the Feds decide to crack down they can locate your PC. It’s not worth it.

shell4life
Post 9

I often find myself trying to escape the constant noise of the TV, but my husband is just the opposite. He has it going all the time, and he even leaves it turned on when he leaves the house.

He watches TV from his cellphone whenever we go anywhere. It annoys me, because for once, I’d like him to enjoy nature and being outdoors.

I personally don’t think it is healthy for people to be able to watch TV anywhere, because how will we ever escape it? When you watch TV, you are getting absorbed in someone else’s life, rather than living your own.

Emilski
Post 8

I don't know much about them, but apparently there are devices out now that allow you to connect your TV to four or five of the different streaming video services. I know they usually connect to Hulu and Netflix as well as some of the other websites and maybe even services from your cable company. I always have the TV going in the background, so this is perfect for me.

With all of the different services that the box can play, you basically have everything that a cable subscription can offer for less price. You get current TV shows through things like Hulu, and you can watch movies and several other series with Netflix. The best part for me is that they play through the TV. I usually like watching TV while I am surfing the internet, so playing shows on my computer isn't really a feasible option.

kentuckycat
Post 7

I love having the ability to watch my home TV anywhere. I do a lot of traveling for my job, so I find that I have a lot of down time where I am either staying in hotel rooms or waiting around for clients. I have one of the apps the article talked about that is provided by my satellite company. It lets me connect to my home DVR and watch shows on my phone or laptop. It really is the best of both worlds. I still get to watch the shows as soon as they air, and I can do it wherever I am at.

Like someone else mentioned, this is really going to decide who succeeds and fails in this business. The time is soon approaching where you will be able to get a Wi-Fi connection no matter where you are in the country, and people are going to be looking for these services.

jmc88
Post 6

@matthewc23 - You're right. The companies that realize people don't want to or can't always be at home when their favorite shows are on going to be the ones that succeed. I'm personally not much of a TV watcher, so I actually canceled my cable subscription whenever Hulu and some of the other websites started to get popular. I realized that the few shows I actually liked to watch were on there, and I could watch them whenever I wanted.

I know that the cable company in my area, though, has realized that a lot of people are cancelling their subscriptions for that reason. They have actually added an online service as part of customers' cable subscription that is basically like Hulu. It lets you watch a lot of network shows the same day they air as well as some channels and special features you can't get on other websites.

matthewc23
Post 5

@EdRick - You also have to look at it from the standpoint of the networks and cable companies, though. Cable companies know that if everyone is watching TV on the internet, then eventually they are going to start realizing that they don't need cable service. Once they start losing customers, they have to start passing part of the cost onto the networks who agree to have their channels broadcast by the cable services.

At least what I think is happening with the channels that either don't have shows online or have them on a delay is that it is part of an agreement with the cable companies so that people don't cancel their service. If someone really, really wants to

watch their favorite shows the same day they air, they'll go ahead and keep pay for the cable service.

Like the article says, though, we're quickly moving toward a point of being able to watch all TV on computers, so it will be interesting to see how everyone adapts.

strawCake
Post 4

These days, it seems like there is a lot of crossover between TV and the computer. For example, as the article said, you can use your computer to access your home television. But for most newer TV's, you can also plus your computer in to your TV and watch streaming content that way.

This is how I usually watch TV shows these days. I plug my computer into my TV and then play streaming media from the Internet on my television. It was really easy to set up, and when I do this I almost feel like I'm watching TV shows in real time!

sunnySkys
Post 3

@Azuza - I like to watch TV on the computer too. I also use my tablet to stream TV shows when I'm not at home, but somewhere else with a wi-fi connection. Using these services, you really can watch current TV shows anywhere!

I have tried to stream TV on my cell phone, but I just didn't enjoy watching it on a device that small. I'm not that picky about the picture quality (I think the quality is fine watching online) but the small view screen really cripples your viewing experience, in my opinion. You can hardly see what's going on!

Azuza
Post 2

I've never thought to invest in a device that allows me to watch TV anywhere I want to during real time, but I do watch TV on the Internet quite a lot. I work in the evenings, so I'm not always home when the shows I want to watch come on.

In the past, I would have had to try and tape the show, or just missed it entirely. However, websites online allow me to watch my shows online when I'm free.

Usually I'll wait a few weeks, and then watch a few episodes at once. This makes cliffhangers much easier to deal with!

EdRick
Post 1

It's unfortunate that it seems to be getting harder to watch TV online. Some shows that used to be available the very next day are now only available on an 8-day delay, while others that used to be available on 8-day delay are now available only to subscribers of paid services like Hulu Plus. (You also have to pay for Hulu Plus if you want to watch shows on mobile devices.)

I'm totally willing to watch commercials in order to watch the show - but I'm not always given that option. If the show I want to watch is not available legitimately one way or another... well, are the networking *trying* to drive people into the arms of pirates?

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