A friend of mine introduced me to this site a couple of months ago and so in turn i thought i would introduce it to my blog. TV Catchup is a new service which lets you watch live UK television online. It is free to sign up and there are no charges involved. With a total of eighteen channels to choose from your always sure to find something to watch even if its just the news. So sign up and let me know what you think.
Launched in late 2007, the site was initially conceived as an online PVR service, where users could select shows from one of 12 free-to-air channels to record up to one week in advance of their broadcast. These online recordings could not be downloaded by the user, merely viewed online, but they could be temporarily ‘lent’ to other users who had not recorded the show, for a period of up to 60 days after their broadcast, when they were then removed from the site. The site differed from broadcaster-services such as the BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Demand Five in that content was not instantly available to users, but had to be recorded in advance or requested. Just like a physical PVR, users were also able to create a series-link so that all future broadcasts of their favourite soap or documentary for example, would automatically be recorded.
Following concerns from broadcasters about the functionality of the site itself, TVCatchup voluntarily temporarily suspended its services on 14 February 2008, and visitors to the site were presented with a message to this effect.
The site remained offline until 10 October 2008 when it relaunched in a beta status. The site currently offers users the ability to watch one of the majority of Freeview channels live and lacks the PVR functionality that the older site had. It also operates an open source API policy to encourage development of third party applications, such as recording shows, transcoding to allow storage/viewing on mobile applications and PVR like functions on the user’s PC.
The website has been confirmed as being lawful by prominent copyright experts Hamlins LLP of London and Judge Robert Engleheart QC of Blackstone Chambers, considered to be the current leading authority in UK copyright law. Broadcasters have further participated in assessing the website prior to launch, and have been reported as having identified no legal cause to oppose the service.
The service makes it abundantly clear that users should be in possession of a UK TV licence to watch television as it is being broadcast and has introduced strict geographical blocking and encryption measures to ensure against direct access by those not entitled to use the service. Whilst it is of course possible to circumvent these measures by use of a VPN and thus fool the security of the website into thinking the viewer is situated within the UK, the website has in place stringent IP monitoring facilities that can detect and block multiple accesses from the same IP.