Though I don’t watch a great deal of television – preferring the radio – there are a few programmes from Britain that I would watch given the chance. Living in Turkey that chance doesn’t present itself too often.
Though most American shows can be caught after a few days on internet sites such as Sidereel British shows are harder or impossible to find. The BBC is present in Turkey through its BBC Entertainment service on DigiTurk which is fine if you like to watch average comedies from a couple of years ago or EastEnders a few weeks behind its airing in the UK.
I don’t. Other than good, strong cheddar cheese the only thing I really miss from Britain is Match of the Day. Spending a Saturday and a Sunday avoiding the results on the radio to the point of covering my ear (and I mean singular: I’m deaf in the other) and going ‘la, la, la, la’ to drown out the football results is a ritual recently back in my life.
A few weeks ago the BBC launched its BBC iPlayer app for the iPhone and iPod touch, joining ITV and other UK channels in offering similar services. None of these are any use outside of the UK though and hence are useless for expats wanting to watch TV abroad.
Take a bow FilmOn TV – a great way for expats or travellers to watch British TV in Turkey, Thailand or whereever on their iPhone. This free service streams its content effectively live (maybe a few seconds after) and has all the British Freeview channels including BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, the ITV channels, C4, C5, E4 and Film 4. There is also the main global news channels (though no CNN), plenty of rubbish channels I have never heard of and some channels from around Europe, notably Italy.
Connection is through wifi, not 3G. There are some issues with the service. The channels located at the top of the menu can sometimes disappear but syncing the iPod usually works to rectify the problem.
More frequent is when the picture lags for ten to 20 seconds. Usually it will restart again by itself but sometimes the problem is more serious and the channel has to be reselected from the menu. Sometimes the app can crash and not restart but leaving it for a while or syncing again can fix the problem.
When the app crashes midway through a particularly anticipated programme it can be incredibly frustrating. I usually treat my iPod with loving care but I surprised myself with how much of a bashing was dished out when I missed all but one of the goals when United got stuffed 6-1 by their Manchester rivals.
However, when it works it is a little miracle that spreads more joy than it surely should. Sometimes I feel as though I have been given free heroin and though it is wonderful now surely sooner or later the dealer is going to ramp the prices up.
The FilmOn app also provides TV schedules but for a more flexible service with alerts, a grid overview and schedules up to seven days in advance try TV Guide.