With the rise of streaming movies and TV on sites like Netflix, the world of entertainment has become totally different to previous times, with every different kind of show available instantly and on demand. Given how fast broadband speeds are today, HD movies of many GB in size can be downloaded in a matter of minutes by many users. Given the amount of choice and different ways to watch online content, it’s important to be aware of the best practices for easy online viewing.
Services like Netflix allow the user to stream the content live from the host site, in a similar way to YouTube. They often also allow downloading for watching later without a live broadband connection. These are the two ways to watch: downloading a media file or streaming the content over the internet. While previously there were separate means to watch TV, movies, stream content and download, the lines have blurred considerably so that many providers and sites do a combination – for example Sky users using an internet or cable connection to save TV content for watching later.
For broadband users, there are good reasons to consider your options if you download a lot of content. HD movies and shows will often use a significant amount of data and also bandwidth, so if you download a lot it could result in a congested service to your home as well as exceeding your data allowance – which can lead to penalties from the provider.
For these reasons, it might be an idea to look for plans with high speed performance as well as a high data allowance. Some plans are labelled as unlimited in the data they offer, but it is worth bearing in mind that fair use policies often apply.
There are several ways to get content online, like films and shows. The most common way is to use streaming sites like Netflix as mentioned, and there are also a wide range of documentaries and other shows on YouTube free for viewing. Peer to peer downloading is also very popular. This involves a community of users sharing files with each other which are then downloaded from multiple users at the same time, which enables a much faster download since your computer is getting the data from many sources simultaneously (and in turn what you have downloaded will be available to other users to download from your computer).
It must be said that caution should be taken with peer to peer downloading since it is primarily a way to download content illegally without paying the producer for the right to use it. There is also a security risk: since there are many not reputable users, there are often viruses transmitted via these file sharing sites. There is a similar type of content from sites that live stream TV and sporting events, some of which are above board but many infringing on copyright laws.
Many media companies like the BBC and Channel 4 have on demand content that can be streamed online for free, enabling you to catch up on what has been aired already. They operate similar to Netflix, but in many cases are free.
You can buy content directly from producers through services like Amazon or iTunes, which means they are generally of good quality. And in many cases your broadband provider will have low cost content available, as is the case for BT and Virgin customers for example.