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Internet TV - a cheap alternative to cable or satellite dish

TV on your computer

Did you know you can watch thousands of online TV and radio stations from around the world on your PC or Laptop, without paying monthly fees, without a television, a satellite dish or cable box? Well, the web is not only for surfing your favorite websites!

There are a handful of applications that will allow you to watch thousands of TV Stations with live online streaming 24/7 from 100+ countries and as many different languages (English, Spanish, German, Dutch, French, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, you name it!). Internet TV players provide music, news, educational programs, sports and shopping channels. It's a cheap way of watching free movies, music videos, international broadcasts and learning languages.

And the good news is -- no any additional equipment is required! All you need is to keep your computer connected to the Internet and install a good free or extremely cheap application.

How Internet TV works?

Watching TV over the Internet it's almost the same as getting television through an antenna or cable wires, with the only difference, that information is sent over the net as data.

There are 2 basic types of broadcasts through Internet TV: live broadcasts and on-demand videos.

Web sites and software applications compile lists of live broadcast channels - both internet-only broadcasts and large TV networks you'll get from cable. You can't pause, back up or skip through parts of the programs that don't interest you -- it's the same as watching live TV on your television screen.

On-demand videos, on the other hand, are usually arranged like a playlist -- you can choose exactly what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

You can also listen to hundreds of radio stations and internet-only audio broadcasts with most of today's popular applications.

Internet TV is relatively new, and there are lots of different ways to get it. The quality, content and costs can vary greatly. Some Internet-only shows will be high-quality, professionally produced materials, while others will have a small window format, look grainy, with intermittent streaming problems even on a high-bandwidth connection. But this is a new field and research is still going on.

Telecom companies are investing in digital content in the hope of offsetting the fall in fixed-voice revenues. In present, they focus primarily on offering television and video services, like IPTV. Focusing primarily on the TV in your living room, IPTV delivers high image quality video over a closed infrastructure that can only receive content from the providers' channels. Internet TV, on the other hand, which has the same look and feel of IPTV, is delivered over the open public Internet -- over the top of existing networks.

Over the short term, internet TV does not represent a real threat to the IPTV providers. IPTV has a clear opportunity to establish a strong position in this market before the image quality and the ease-of-use issues of internet TV are resolved. But after that, the situation may change -- when internet TV moves to the TV screen, internet TV can pose a bigger threat.

Internet TV is made possible through recent innovations, the use of new efficient video compression technologies and the explosion of broadband Internet. Traditional TV networks are also easing into the technology and experimenting with different formats, finding new ways to serve you with a quality viewing experience.


With the advent of live TV on the Internet, watching cable and satellite TV could be well behind the competition soon. It has so many benefits compared to your traditional live TV viewing.

First, if you purchase a good application, you don't have to pay a monthly subscription fee. There will be no recurring charges. Just imagine how much that can save you in the long run?

With Internet TV, you have a wider selection of channels to choose from. Along with many of the same shows you find on the big networks, many websites offer independently produced programs targeted to people with specific interests, so you can find even more variety on Internet TV than cable TV! If you wanted to watch a show on solar panels, for example, you could probably find it more easily over the Internet than on regular TV. They will let you search or browse through prerecorded clips from popular programs and choose exactly what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

Think portability. It would be a little uncomfortable to bring with you the satellite dish when traveling :) With internet TV your worries are over -- your favorite shows are there for you on your little trusty laptop!

Another advantage of getting TV on your computer is that many sites will keep an archive of old TV shows. You can view TV shows from even before the 80s -- your old-time favorites are still great to watch every so often. Many sites also have the archives of recent shows including that one show you missed early in the season. This is rather helpful if you are an avid fan for a series.

Every good program will provide you with an option to search for your favorite channels easily. You will be able to set your viewing screen to any size or full-screen mode. Quality software applications will support multi-windows mode, giving you the option to open multiple windows at the same time, which could save your time under a slow internet connection.

Pricing and fee structures

There are 4 basic fee structures for Internet TV:

  • Free sites: Aside from the fee you pay for your broadband, many Internet TV sites or channels don't cost anything. These free sites are usually supported by advertising. Banner ads may show up around the site, or short commercials may play before you watch a program. It's a little annoying to wait a little, but it's the only way for the free web site to make money and offer quality programming for you to watch.
  • Pay-per-view: Major networks generally charge a few dollars for downloads and rentals. Pay-per-view videos or podcasts can cost nothing if the site is supported by advertising.
  • Subscription model: You typically pay a monthly fee for a certain number of channels or on-demand videos, just like your cable bill. Subscriptions can cost as little as $20 and as much as $120, depending on the number of channels and features you want.
  • One time fee: This is the most popular option. You'll pay a small one-time fee for a certain number of channels or on-demand videos. Prices start from $10 to $50 or more depending on features offered and the quality of the service.

One-time-fee Internet TV program reviews

There are countless shareware programs that will allow you to watch TV for a limited time, or internet TV sites and software applications that don't cost anything.

But as they say, you'll get what you pay for. We reviewed a few popular, reasonably priced applications you can try below:


The future of Internet TV

With Internet TV being praised everywhere as the next big thing, is it possible that cable and satellite providers will go down the drain, and a new form of television using your broadband internet connection will take control? No, they both are going to be here for a long, long time to come.

The majority of people will still get their TV in the traditional way. But Internet TV is steadily increasing in popularity; it's very likely that in the long run the Internet will become the primary method of getting TV shows to our homes. So, try out a good application and take a glimpse into the future!