How to watch Free to air TV on the internet

Can I watch Free to air Australian TV on the internet?

All TV broadcasters duplicate free to air TV programs online, but differently. What shown online varies. For example, you can watch ABC News exactly as via antenna on Youtube, but the main ABC channel available on its website only. You can watch all ABC free to air channels on the internet with the iView app for TV, iPhone, iPad and Android. Plus, ABC offering exclusive online content such as ABC Arts. SBS online internet version called On Demand. SBS does not stream free to air channel online. SBS OnDemand is the mix of content from all channels grouped by sections such as Movies, News Sport etc.

Continuous online video, in general, called streaming or IPTV. To watch it, you need an app made by a TV channel broadcaster and a streaming device such as smart TV, DVD hard drive video recorders, mobile phones, set-top boxes, game consoles and even a mobile phone. Sure, you also can watch online TV in a computer browser such as Chrome. But the content of the same channel in the browser and app may vary. The arrangement of streamed TV programs in the apps also depends on the channel. There are dozens of streaming services in Australia, and there are much more globally. Traditional free to air TV channels are only a small fraction of the global IPTV content, although they have the best professionally made content. You can google 'streaming aggregators' to find more. Netflix is one example of a popular streaming aggregator service.

If you are from overseas, you probably can watch your homeland TV programs online directly on the Smart TV now.

What do I need to watch Australian TV channels online?

If you have a 'smart' TV to stream online TV, all you have to do is:

  1. Get TV connected to the internet, typically by WiFi. Older TVs may have Ethernet cables without WiFi. TV might be already connected during the TV installation.
  2. Option A: Press the Smart (big colourful button on Samsung TVs) or Google Play (Sony etc.) button on the remote to start applications. Other brands may name it differently. Often apps are also accessible with the Input button.
    Option B: Press one of the colour buttons on the remote control when viewing a free air channel via the antenna. That should lunch the relevant online app of the channel. However, that works only if the antenna is working.
  3. Typically, after few questions, it will get you to an App selection. Preinstalled ones should include Netflix and all Australian broadcasters such as ABC iView, SBS OnDemand etc. If something missing, you should be able to search for a channel or streaming service you want.

I'll repeat that online apps of the same broadcaster are not precisely what you get via free to air antenna channels. Most of the new TVs are 'smart' - which means they can connect to the internet and have an app catalogue. Some cheap TVs are called Smart on the price tag, but they are missing local apps, having only a limited set of international apps, like Netflix, Youtube.

If your TV is not 'smart', you can connect TV to the internet via a streaming device such as Apple TV or Google Chromecast. New Apple TV with remote control currently costs $200. The Chromecast model with a remote is $99 and $55 without a remote. If you got Chrtomcast without a remote, you would need to use an Android mobile phone or a tablet to control what to watch.

You may already have Telstra TV and Streaming box or Optus Fetch TV or Foxtel Now bundled with the internet service. These boxes are streaming online TV as well as free to air TV programs from the antenna. You do not need a TV antenna to stream from the internet.

The minimum internet bandwidth required for streaming TV is around 4Mbs. Almost any internet connection deliver that speed.

Dec 13, 2018; updated Oct 5, 2021 by Dimitri,  Tags: TV antenna