Broaden your horizons

zo-breid-je-het-filmaanbod-op-netflix-gigantisch-uitWith plenty of video streaming services out there, there’s no need to squabble over your television options, writes Aoife Valentine

Plonking yourself down in front of the television in the evening is supposed to be a relaxing affair. However, it’s often a little more fraught than that. Fights over the television remote can require diplomatic skills that even peace negotiators don’t possess.

Everyone thinks their interests are most important, and it’s such a small thing that it seems unreasonable that you can’t have your way. A survey last year by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair found that control over the remote was the number one thing couples fought about, ahead of even serious money issues.

The introduction of services that allow you record television shows for later means you no longer have to miss out completely, but it still doesn’t solve the issue of who gets to choose in the moment. Often the easiest way to avoid that argument is to fire up your laptops separately and take advantage of the wide range of television and movie streaming options.

With such a wide choice available on each one, you won’t need them all, but it’s still best to consider what you’re looking for before signing up for a monthly bill. Whether you primarily want access to TV shows or movies will be a defining factor in your choice, or with a number of free options, you may just find yourself with some extra options for nights when the battle for control of the remote hasn’t gone your way

Kevin-Spacey-House-of-Cards-NetflixNetflix

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, it would have been hard to avoid the Netflix hype since it came to Ireland in 2012. It has a vast collection of movies and TV shows – in the thousands – and its ventures into producing its own original TV series has successfully thrown up gems like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. It got into the streaming game early, and now, it’s available on every device you can think of, from your laptop to games consoles like the Xbox and Playstation.

Price: from €7.99 a month.

Mubi

A good choice for cinophiles, Mubi is a little like being part of a film club. It’s a curated service, taking away the choice that can sometimes feel overwhelming with Netflix. Mubi gives you a new film every day, chosen by its cinema gods, and that’s then available for 30 days after for you to watch. There’s something for everyone, and with the limited choice that’s available at any one time, you’ll find yourself expanding your cinematic horizons as you go.

Price: from €4.99 a month.

RTÉ Player

If you forgot to hit record on the latest episode of Fair City or your Friday night plans mean you’ll have to skip the Late Late this week, RTÉ has you covered with their Player online. You can catch the Sunday game and the news a second time around, but if you want the Big Big Movie, you’ll have to settle yourself in front of the television – the Player is only useful for TV shows. Some of RTÉ’s original series run exclusive online content on the Player as a bonus.

Price: Free

3Player

In a similar vein to the RTÉ Player, TV3 have brought the 3 Player forward. It again, will only be useful for television programmes as it doesn’t show movies, but it means you can catch up on all the soaps without clogging up your recorder box with series link records of them all, when you know you’ll never get around to them.

Price: Free

Volta

If you have a particular interest in Irish cinema, Volta may be the right choice. It’s named after the first cinema in Ireland, and offers a range of independent films from both Ireland and international waters. You have the option to rent or buy from a large collection of films, and then you can stream your chosen film online, or if you’re a PC user, you can download it for later. There’s a CinePass you can pick up, offering a discount of up to 25% where you’re renting multiple films.

Price: From €3.99 for 48 hour rental.

iTunes

iTunes is home to Apple’s on demand video service, which offers a range of movies and TV shows to download or rent. Without a billing address in the US, Australia, Canade, German, France or the UK, you won’t get access to television shows, but you can still take advantage of the movies. If you rent, you’ll have 30 days to watch them, or 48 hours from the time you first hit play, though you can watch the film multiple times in that period if you fancy it. Because it runs with iTunes, the videos can be played on laptops, mobile devices that use iTunes, like the iPhone, iPad, or iPod, or you can use Apple TV to watch on your TV.

Price: Varies

4oD

While a limited number of Channel 4’s programmes aren’t licensed for Ireland, 4oD is still the best pick if you’re looking for a really wide breadth of television content, over movies. It offers up both syndicated content as well as the channel’s own programmes, though the former are often only available for a number of days after being broadcast on television.

Price: Free

BBC Global iPlayer

While the Global iPlayer service from the BBC won’t offer you everything the regular version does to people in the UK, there’s still thousands of hours of content available on it, including BBC-made shows. If you move around a lot, what’s available for you to watch will change as you go depending on the country you’re in. It’s subscription based, and once your subscription lapses, any videos you’ve downloaded will be unavailable.

Price: €6.99 per month

Xbox video

If you’ve got an Xbox console knocking around your house, it can be put to more use than simply for gaming. The Xbox video service is similar to iTunes, in that you can buy or rent movies or TV shows and prices vary depending on what you pick. A Season Pass will save you up to 20-50% off each episode individually, if you plan on sticking with single TV shows. As well playing on your Xbox, Windows 8.1 devices and Windows 8 phones also will show the content, or you can watch online at xboxvideo.com.

Price: Varies

Originally published in the Sunday Business Post on October 5th 2014.

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