GeekRebel Guide to Online TV

This post first appeared at Mail & Guardian TechLeader

I don’t have a TV at home, so I consume a decent amount of bandwidth watching TV shows and YouTube videos.

Here’s how I go about it getting loads of entertainment without a DsTV subscription:

1. StumbleVideo: I don’t spend that much time on YouTube itself. Rather, I watch video clips on StumbleVideo. StumbleVideo offers a slick interface that allows you to quickly rate each video you watch, either by clicking the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” button. It then learns what you like and what you don’t like watching. You can also choose different categories, so if you feel like watching funnies, select the comedy channel, or choose documentary, for a wide variety of full length movies.

2. BitTorrent. Go to The Pirate Bay, and simply search for any movie or TV series you’d like to watch. The only real problem is that BitTorrent will consume a disproportionate amount of bandwidth. Firstly, the videos available are high quality, which means you’re looking at a whopping 350 MB per TV show. Also, as BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer service, you’ll be uploading while downloading, meaning you could easily use double as much bandwidth. Your TV show just used 700 MB, or about R50 worth of bandwidth. The upside is that you now have a high-quality version of the show for keeps.

3. iTunes. Believe it or not, but actually paying for that TV show might well be cheaper than downloading it illegally from BitTorrent. iTunes has an increasingly wide range of TV shows and now also thousands of movie titles available. Now, I know that in South Africa there is technically still no iTunes Store available, but hey! It’s the internet, stupid!

Click here to find out how you can open an iTunes account from anywhere in the world and have full access to all features.

4. Joost. If I had to bet money on what the future of TV would look like, both online and offline, I’d but a hefty part of my fortune on Joost. Coming from the same brainiacs who first brought us KaZaa and later Skype, Joost has a slick interface and, most incredibly, full-screen high-quality streaming video. It has a large bouquet of programming, including channels from CNN, Warner Bros. and Fox. It’s the perfect online TV application for couch potatoes, but unfortunately also a heavy consumer of bandwidth.  

5. Streaming video aggregators. These come and go at an alarming rate. Basically, an aggregator will point to movies and TV shows that have been uploaded to video sharing sites, such as Google Video, Youtube and a large variety of Asian websites, which would be difficult to navigate without an English language aggregator. Current ones include tv-links.eu,sidereel.com,alluc.org, ovguide.com and  Project Free TV. In some cases, you are able to download the Flash Video files using Flash Video Downloader 2 (for Mac) or Orbit Downloader (for Windows) or an online service such as KeepVid.

Watching videos online in South Africa might still be more expensive than getting DsTV and won’t give you the same quality or sports content. The upside is that you have video available on demand, which is really the way things should be.

<b>Disclaimer</b>. Some of the techniques described above <i>may</i> be illegal in your country and I take no responsibility if that’s the case. My favourite method is iTunes, as it’s fully legal, offers the highest quality and the cheapest price.

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