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How to watch live TV online

How to watch live TV online

Need to watch your team's important match or your favourite series but don’t have access to the TV right now? It’s easy to watch live TV online no matter what device you’re using.

Even with on-demand TV and catch-up TV services, sometimes you just want to watch live TV. But if someone else is using your telly, or if you’re out and about or on holiday, you might not always have access to your TV when you want to watch it.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever before to watch live TV online, direct to almost any device.

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What you’ll need

Generally speaking, you’ll be able to stream live TV to laptops, desktop computers, smartphones and tablets, although some services are limited on certain devices.

Depending upon the service and the device you’re using, you’ll either be able to watch through your web browser or an app.

Although you’re likely to get better speeds if you connect to Wi-Fi, you can use mobile connections, too, since streaming typically only requires a speed of around 2Mb. That being said, some providers require you to use a Wi-Fi connection to access live TV, and streaming TV uses a lot of data, so keep your data plan in mind before you start watching.

The last thing you’ll need to stream TV is a TV licence. Even if you’re not watching through an actual television, as long as you’re watching live TV on any device, you’ll need a TV licence to legally watch it.

Stream using provider apps

Watch TV online

Even though streaming live TV is becoming more popular, not many channels are available online individually. We’ll cover the ones that are, but if you currently have a TV package, your best bet for watching TV online is likely to be your provider’s app or website — which is probably already included in your TV package.

Most major providers offer their own streaming service, including:

  • Virgin Media: Virgin’s TV Anywhere app lets you watch more than 100 live TV channels — depending upon your package — on up to two registered devices, including laptops, desktops, mobiles and tablets.
  • Sky: With Sky Go, you can watch up to 54 live channels on up to two registered devices. If you upgrade to the paid version, Sky Go Extra, you can register up to four devices instead.
  • BT: BT’s TV app is available on up to two devices if you subscribe to their Entertainment or Max packages, or if you have an Extra Box subscription. You can use the app or online player to watch up to 34 channels.
  • NOW TV: The channels you can stream from the NOW TV app depend on which TV pass you have. The NOW TV app can be used on up to four devices — including laptops, games consoles, tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes — per account, but it only allows for simultaneous viewing on three devices at a time, and some devices can’t stream live TV.

Again, the channels you can stream and the number — and type — of devices you can register may vary depending upon your exact package. But if you have access to these services, they’re likely to give you more options than streaming individual channels.

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Stream Freeview channels

Several Freeview channels are free to stream live online:

  • BBC: Thanks to iPlayer, you can watch 10 BBC channels live online or through the app.
  • ITV: ITV Hub lets you stream all six ITV channels live on their website or app.
  • Channel 4: Through the All 4 site or app, you can watch all five of Channel 4’s channels on their website or app.

Stream sports

Watch Sky Sports online

If you pay for premium sports channels like BT Sport and Sky Sports, you probably don’t want to miss a single game. Luckily both channels make it easy to watch your favourite matches no matter where you are.

Watch Sky Sports online

You can watch Sky Sports online through the Sky Sports app or website, no matter who your TV provider is. Or, if you don’t want to download another app, you can watch it through:

  • NOW TV
  • Virgin TV Anywhere
  • Sky Go

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Watch BT Sport online

BT Sport also has a dedicated app, or you can livestream through the BT Sport website. These provider apps also support BT Sport:

  • BT TV app
  • Virgin TV Anywhere

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Stream using other apps

There are also streaming sites and apps — such as TVPlayer — that let you stream live TV across more channels. Some are free, but some cost money.

When using one of these services, make sure you choose one that is legal and isn’t pirated. More and more ISPs are cracking down on illegal streaming and online piracy, and if you’re caught, you risk getting your service cut off, fines or even jail time.

With so many free, legal options available to you, online piracy simply isn’t worth the risk these days.

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