How to watch on demand tv services

On demand gives you the power to watch the programmes you want to watch, when you want to watch them

Elderly couple eating popcorn and watching TV together

Ever turned down an invitation or stayed in just so you didn’t miss out on your favourite TV programme?

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If you have, the chances are you’re not yet making the most of on demand TV services. These give you the power to watch the programmes you want to watch, when you want to watch them.

That means you don’t ever have to worry about missing that last episode of the series you’ve been following for weeks, because you’ll be able to tune into it any time that suits you.

Most of the main television channels, such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 offer free on demand services that you can sign into from your TV or add as an app to your phone or tablet. Once you have the app, you can download the programmes you want to watch offline, watch them live, or whenever you want to.

These services are usually easy to navigate. You can either search for the programmes you want to watch, and they are also grouped into categories, such as new releases, documentaries, dramas and so on.

There are also several subscription TV services, such as Amazon Prime, NOW TV and Netflix. With these services, you pay a monthly subscription and in return can watch any of the programmes they offer, as well as films and box sets.

On demand TV from the big providers

If you’ve signed up to a TV package with Sky, Virgin Media or BT, you’ll usually have access to the main BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 services as well as any additional services your subscription includes, such as UKTV Play.

For example, if you opt for a Virgin Full House TV package, as well as the main channel catch up services, you’ll also benefit from Sky On Demand and Virgin TV Box Sets.

If you have a Sky package, then you’ll be able to use catch up TV to watch the basic catch up services from the BBC, ITV and so on, as well as your favourite Sky TV channels with Sky On Demand. If you want access to box sets on demand, you can opt for the Sky BoxSets add-on, which you’ll have to pay an additional monthly charge for.

BT’s TV packages come with a YouView box, so you automatically get the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 catch up services, and with a separate subscription you can add Now TV too.

Check your broadband speed

You’ll need a good broadband speed for streaming TV services, ideally 5Mbps for high definition viewing. There are lots of free apps and websites where you can check your broadband speed and broadband comparison services can tell you which deals offer the fastest speeds in your area.


Here’s our pick of the top TV and broadband offers

Sky Entertainment + Broadband Superfast

  • Including the best of Netflix
  • £45 per month for 18 months
  • £29.95 setup cost
  • Average download speed of 59Mb
  • Over 300 entertainment channels
  • 18 month contract

£45 a month for 18 months, £110 per month thereafter. £29.95 setup costs. 18 month contract applies. New customers only. You must switch your line rental to Sky. Terms and conditions apply. Further terms can be found on Sky site. Offer ends 31/10/2019.

Virgin Media: Bigger Bundle

  • 12 months free Amazon Prime
  • £57 per month for 12 months
  • £35 setup cost
  • Average download speed of 108Mb
  • Over 230 channels
  • 12 month contract

£57 a month for 12 months, £78 a month thereafter. £35 activation fee applies. 12 month contract applies. New customers only. You must switch you line rental to Virgin Media. SERVICES AVAILABLE IN VIRGIN MEDIA CABLED STREETS ONLY. Terms and conditions apply. Further terms can be found on Virgin Media site. Offer ends 13/11/2019.

Plusnet: Unlimited Broadband

  • £75 cashback
  • £18.99 per month for 12 months
  • No setup cost
  • Average download speed of 10Mb
  • 12 month contract
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£18.99 a month for 12 months, £28.98 a month thereafter. £0 setup applies. 12 month contract applies. New customers only. You must switch you line rental to Plusnet. Terms and conditions apply. Further terms can be found on Plusnet site. Offer ends 29/10/2019.