TVCatchup website as of 2012
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Type of site||Internet television|
TVCatchup is an internet television service for viewing free-to-air UK channels. It operates as a cable service and retransmits BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 amongst others, only in the UK. Users can access the service via desktop browsers as well as smartphone and tablet apps. The service is funded by advertising, with a pre-roll advertisement preceding the live channel stream.
The service was originally launched in 2007 as a personal video recorder in the cloud before being redesigned as a live-streaming service. As of October 2013[update], it has nearly 10 million active users, according to the company, with 2 million viewers tuning in to the service to watch the England versus Poland FIFA World Cup qualifier on 15 October 2013.
As of 17 September 2013[update], the website also offers a catchup service, providing listings for recently aired programmes from the UK's four largest broadcasters, and redirects viewers to their on-demand services.
It was possible to record TV in 2007 but the functionality was removed in 2008. The company said in 2010 that the facility would be returning to the site.
The following channels are available streamed live:
|Entertainment||BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, S4C, BBC One Scotland, BBC One Wales, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Alba, Quest, Community Channel, Fashionbox|
|Music||Subtv Music, Clubbing TV, BritAsia TV, Viva, Vintage TV, 360 Tune Box|
|News||BBC News, BBC Parliament, Al Jazeera, RT (and HD), CCTV News|
|Sport||Fightbox, Sail TV, BBC Red Button (and HD)|
|Shopping||QVC, Ideal World, Ideal Extra, Create and Craft|
Ways to watch the service
The service can be accessed through any desktop browser with Adobe Flash installed. It can also be viewed on the Windows Media Center functions of Windows Vista (Home Premium and Ultimate) and Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.
TVCatchup is accessible on mobile devices through a range of free apps. An iOS app was released on the iTunes Store in 2011 for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with Apple Airplay, meaning it can be viewed on a TV set. The app can be set to receive only via WiFi, in order to avoid incurring potentially high streaming costs. An Android app was released in September 2012, available from the Google Play store. In December 2012, an app was launched for the Kindle HD Fire tablet. In February 2013, an app was launched for Windows Phone 8. All mobile devices can access the service through their browsers.
There was also an Adobe AIR desktop application released in Beta mode on 28 April 2009 for the Ubuntu 8.10 operating system, which was to be gradually updated to include features such as a full TV guide and PVR.
TVCatchup retransmits free-to-air channels over the Internet on the basis of section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988), which allows for the retransmission of 'qualifying services'. Its status as a cable service was challenged by ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, when they issued legal proceedings in June 2010. In the hearings held in June 2011, Lord Justice Floyd in the High Court of Justice ruled that TVCatchup's defence relying on s.73 of the CDPA 1988 was valid. The judgement expressly excludes retransmission of any other channels under these provisions as well as retransmission to 3G mobile devices, home WiFi Mobile reception remains unaffected. In a court order dated 7 October 2013, the High Court ruled that TVCatchup should cease retransmitting the 'digital channels' of ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 but not the principal channels. TVCatchup was also required to deposit an amount of £200,000 in lieu of costs and ordered to cease retransmission by mobile broadband, although it has been granted leave to appeal this decision. Meanwhile, reception by WiFi remains permissible.
Although the Welsh public service broadcaster S4C is covered under the provisions of the CDPA 1988, the channel entered into a formal carriage agreement with TVCatchup in August 2013.
The service makes clear that users should be in possession of a UK TV licence to watch television as it is being broadcast. As of April 2009[update], the site has been using stringent IP monitoring facilities to detect and block access from many proxy servers, to ensure that users are situated within the UK.
The site was initially conceived as an online PVR service, where users could select shows from one of 30 free-to-air channels to record up to one week in advance of their broadcast. However, following concerns from broadcasters about the functionality of the site, TVCatchup voluntarily suspended its services while their concerns were addressed.
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- ITV Broadcasting Ltd & Ors v TV Catchup Ltd, [2011 EWHC 1874 (Pat)] (18 July 2011) (“The section 73 defence applies to the qualifying services, but not in respect of re-transmission to mobile phones or of out of area services.”).
- "High Court Sealed Order". 7 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
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