The beauty of these free-to-air Australian TV apps, now available for Networks Ten, Seven, Nine, ABC & SBS are that they allow you to view a selection of TV episodes on your devices, on the go, wherever and whenever you like.
Of course, given how much we are rorted here in Australia on 3G/4G data mobile plans, you’ll be well advised to keep this sort of viewing to Wifi access. Just a friendly tip from me. 😉
So where can Aussies get these apps and what do they provide? Here’s a quick rundown on who’s offering what.
The ABC’s iView app was, as far as I know, easily the first app of this kind to emerge from the Aussie commercial network landscape. It offers the following:
- Instant and unlimited access to your favourite ABC TV programs
- Live Streaming: Watch ABC News 24 live over Wi-Fi or 3G
- Adaptive video quality: Programs automatically adjust to available bandwidth and network conditions
- AirPlay support: Watch iview on your TV by using the app with an Apple TV, and while using other apps
- Watchlist: Add a series to the Watchlist and the app will notify you when a new episode becomes available
- Syncing: Turn on iCloud to sync the Watchlist on your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Start watching a program on one device and resume watching on another device at the point where you left off
- Discover: Search by program name or browse by channel or category. Catch up on the week’s biggest shows under ‘Featured Programs’, see what’s new in ‘Recently Added’, or browse by ‘Last Chance’
- Share: Use Facebook, Twitter or email to share your favourite programs with friends
- Parental Control: Set iview to display only programs that are suitable for adults, or only for children
- Closed Captions: Set iview to display closed captions, available on a large amount of programs.
Missed the latest episode of “The Killing”, “South Park”, “Tropfest” or some obscure foreign film? Fear not. The SBS on Demand app more than likely will give you a second shot at the program you crave, offering:
- Search or browse from thousands of videos and discover documentaries, feature films, food shows and much more
- Add your favourite videos to the Playlist so that you can watch them later. Plus, if you’re signed in with your SBS On Demand account, you’ll be able to access your Playlist across all devices with SBS On Demand available (website, Xbox, PlayStation 3 and IPTV)
- Stay up to date by subscribing to a program. With this feature, new episodes will be automatically added to your playlist
- Be notified by the app when a new subscription video has been added to your Playlist, or if a Playlist video is about to expire
- Find out which programs are coming soon to SBS On Demand, and add them so that they’ll automatically be included in your Playlist once available
- If you enjoyed a video, share it with your friends via Twitter, Facebook or email
- Adaptive video quality: Videos automatically adjust to available bandwidth and network conditions.
I can’t say I find a whole lot to watch on the PLUS 7 app, but I give the network credit for creating perhaps the most attractive UI of those covered in this post.
Now all they have to do is combine this app with the info and social features of their “second screen” Fango app and they may come close to being able to offer something close to Nine’s “Jump in” app experience.
Features offered by the crew at Seven include:
- New episodes are added daily and are available for 7 to 28 days
- You can pause, fast forward and rewind programmes
- Find out when a show is next on Television
- Share your favourite shows and episodes with your friends
- Search and browse episodes by just added, most viewed and expiring soon and by genre.
Nine’s Jump-in app gives viewers access to a wealth of news, sport and entertainment “catchups” as well as provide access to program specific viewer polls, competitions, related news and a number of social media streams. In summary:
- Watch the latest episodes of your favourite Channel 9 shows
- Get access to breaking news, exclusive videos, comments and votes, sneak peeks behind the scenes, social links, cast bios and episode guides
- Find out what’s happening on the shows you love and begin the search for new favourites on our TV guide
- Let your friends know what they should be watching by marking your favourites
- Share the small-screen love on Facebook and Twitter from one easy location with our social networking service.
The “new kid on the block”, TENplay, is probably the one I’ve been waiting for the most. With simple taps of your finger you can be catching up with the latest episodes of “Homeland”, “The Project”, “Ripper Street”, “Jamie Oliver shows” or a great selection of wildlife documentaries.
TENplay features include:
- Catch up on or relive your favourite shows: with episodes on TENplay straight after they’ve been on TV, missing out is a thing of the past
- Watch live news and sport: entertainment as it happens, real-time viewing is all part of the TENplay package
- Create personalised playlists: line up your TV picks and watch whatever you’re in the mood for, whenever you want it
- Track your top TV: with latest video alerts, and reminders for when your show is on TV and the app, TENplay connects you to what’s new
- Access a complete TV guide: featuring full free-to-air and Foxtel listings, with tenplay you’ll always see the big picture.
Just a couple of last things to note:
- If you’re lucky enough to have Apple TV, you can stream video from the apps above directly to your wide screen TVs. Sweet!
- If you think you’re going to escape those bloody awful ads that basically wreck TV programs when they go live to air, you’re going to be disappointed. Although there are definitely less interruptions you have to persevere, most of the apps above build ads into their playback of programs. I guess that’s a small inconvenience to pay for a pretty convenient service.