Smartphones are great for catching up on your favourite TV shows when you are on the move, or when someone else is hogging the telly. With a wealth of different TV streaming apps available, you will be spoilt for choice. But which apps are worth downloading and which should you leave on the bench?
iPlayer is the gold standard for web-based catch-up TV and it is also free to download for all of the major smartphone platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.
The app’s interface is relatively consistent throughout and you can watch TV shows from the past seven days, as well as listen to radio and stream over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connectivity where available.
iPlayer is obviously limited to offering content from the BBC and there isn’t a particularly huge back catalogue of content to access, but plenty of shows stick around longer than the seven day limit advertised.
The main downside is that you need a network connection for streaming, because there is no offline mode or means to download the content to your phone.
4OD from Channel 4 has an app for Android and iOS, but not any other operating system, which means Windows Phone and BlackBerry users are left out in the cold.
As well as offering catch-up streaming for a range of shows from the last 30 days, the app also has a commendable library of older content available for streaming over a Wi-Fi connection.
4OD’s trump card is that shows can indeed be downloaded to your phone and then watched later, which means you do not need to always have an internet connection to access its content.
Unlike the BBC, you will have to endure adverts when watching 4OD programmes, which is to be expected from this commercial broadcaster.
ITV Player gives you 30 days of access to previously broadcast programmes from the range of channels that ITV offers.
The free version of the app is supported by advertisements, which play before and during shows. However, for a monthly fee you can get ITV Player Premium access, which removes the ads completely.
This touch might be welcomed by those who are tired of having to wait while ads play and sick of seeing the same promotions over and over again.
Like 4OD, the iOS app of ITV Player only allows streaming over Wi-Fi at the moment, which means 3G streaming is not available. You cannot download shows, so offline playback is also a no-no.
While the terrestrial broadcasters offer their streaming free to everyone, as long as you don’t mind sitting through some adverts, you will need to be a Sky TV subscriber to use Sky Go on your smartphone of choice.
The Sky Go app can be downloaded to iOS and Android devices and offers both on-demand TV shows and movies as well as live playback of a wide range of channels in real time.
This means you can watch football matches from Sky Sports and the latest American hits from Sky Atlantic as they are being broadcast, as long as the relevant channels are included in your viewing package.
While the app is free to download and use, with support for Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G onboard, you will have to pay a subscription fee for the TV package and use your Sky account to log in.
If you are willing to upgrade to Sky Go Extra the streaming is joined by dedicated downloading, giving offline playback a chance to shine. For families with more than one smartphone owner, Sky Go Extra also allows you to register four devices to the same account and stream simultaneously on two of them.
This app from Virgin Media is similar to Sky Go in that it requires a subscription if you want to watch TV on your smartphone.
Unlike other TV apps it is only compatible with iOS devices at the moment, but will hopefully make it to Android in the future.
As well as watching 77 of Virgin Media’s channels live on your portable device, you can also acces thousands of hours of on-demand content to play whenever you want to watch.
For Virgin Media customers who have a TiVo box, the app can be used to control this and set up recordings or check out schedules when you are away from home.
This cross-platform, broadcaster-neutral app is available for the broadest range of smartphones and tablets around, including Windows Phone, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and more.
It lets you watch live TV via Wi-Fi and 3G, with optimised streaming capabilities ensuring that your bandwidth is being used as effectively as possible to minimise buffering.
More than 50 different channels are accessible via this app, although despite the name, you cannot actually watch on-demand catch-up TV content as everything is streamed live to this TV mobile application.
Want to catch up on your programmes with Superfast 4G? Find out when 4G is coming to your area.