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Streaming TV services have exploded in popularity in recent years, facilitated by the availability of faster broadband connections that make for a seamless internet video-viewing experience.

But what exactly is a streaming TV service? What do the different services offer? And what do you need to start streaming TV? Read on for all the information you need.

What is streaming TV?

Once upon a time, getting hold of video online was a case of downloading a movie or TV show from a download site – legally or otherwise.

The problem with that is that you’ve got to wait for the video to download to your hard drive or device first and that can be time-consuming. Especially when it comes to downloading large files.

By contrast, streaming technology frees you up to watch what you want, when you want.

As the name implies, the technology works by feeding a continuous stream to a computer from the internet. The upshot of that is that you're able to start playing the video instantly without having to wait for the entire file to download.

Streaming TV services

After streaming content became more viable over UK broadband connections, a huge array of services sprung up to take advantage of the technology. You can now take your pick from LoveFilm, NowTV, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, TalkTalk Plus and ITV Pay Player.

What do I need to stream TV?

All you need to enjoy free streaming services, such as the iPlayer, is a fast enough broadband connection and any internet-enabled device. One great thing about many streaming services is that they’ll work on smartphones, meaning you can enjoy your TV favourites in the palm of your hand.

Paid-for streaming services, Netflix and LoveFilm for example, also require that you pay a monthly subscription.

Streaming TV services contracts

Not sure if you want to commit to a lengthy contract with a streaming service? The good news is that you probably won’t have to.

Netflix and LoveFilm, for instance, allow you to cancel at any time. Better still, both services usually offer free trials, so you can get the measure of the service before you start paying for it.

How much are paid-for streaming services?

Streaming TV services in the UK come in at well under £10 per month. That's a pretty reasonable outlay for unlimited streaming, especially considering what you'd once have paid to hire new movies at a video rental store.

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