While it may have felt at one time that competitive reality shows would be a fleeting fad, (think that Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire two hour special from 2000), that American Idol is now in it’s twelfth season and that Honey Boo Boo exists at all, strongly suggests that this style of television is with us for good. What started as an isolated phenomenon (Survivor) quickly morphed into the one of network television’s go-to formats to bring in consistent viewership in very high numbers and across all demographic groups.
Just like the United States itself, many of the most popular competitive reality shows in the US are actually based on ideas that originated in the United Kingdom. The X Factor and America’s Got Talent are both based on shows initially produced in the UK by Simon Cowell, and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! was originally made by the Manchester-based production company, Granada Television.
Many of Britain’s most popular shows are competitive reality shows, and many of them are featured on their biggest commercial channel, iTV. So, if you’re an American that’s interested in catching up on the original versions of some of your favorite shows, you should know that much of ITV’s programming can be viewed online on their patented streaming iTV Player. That is, of course, assuming that you’re on a computer with a UK-based IP address, but we’ll return to that point a little later.
What is iTV and the iTV Player?
The iTV Player was initially named iTV Catch Up, which should tell you a lot about the purpose of the iTV Player and the intentions of its creators. Simply put, the iTV Player is an easy way to provide the content of the iTV channel online, as it offers free streaming television with an interface that allows you to search for the shows you’d like to see either alphabetically, by genre, or by scrolling through the programming of each day of the week.
Though we mostly focused on reality-based TV in the opening section of this article (as it’s a fairly dominant feature of iTV’s primetime programming), iTV is known for a wider swath of programming styles.
Due to their status as a public-services broadcasting station, iTV is devoted to coverage of sports (particularly football), current affairs, and children-themed programming, even as their most popular programming tends to be focused on less educational material. In fact, iTv’s devoting a great deal of coverage to the 2013 Africa’s Cup of Nations, so tune in to see if Zambia can repeat their shocking 2012 triumph.
iTV also has a long, proud history as a broadcaster of immensely popular and highly esteemed dramas (Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited). The newly aired Mr. Selfridge (starring Jeremy Piven) looks to honor that reputation. Mr. Selfridge tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge (Piven), visionary founder of Selfridges department store, and follows how he built his business in early 20th century London. In the tradition of beloved American programming like Mad Men, Mr. Selfridge takes place during a time of great social upheaval, and like Mad Men, and Downton Abbey as well, the show wrings a lot of material out of the way old-world people tried to adjust to changing customs and mores.
It’s too early to tell, but given its similarities to Downton Abbey and Mad Men, Mr. Selfridge could muster up some crossover appeal and become appointment television in both the UK and the US.
How Do I Watch iTV Player from Outside the UK?
As we mentioned earlier, iTV Player only offers its content to those inside the UK. But don’t despair: FlashRouters will happily guide you around that problem, and provide you with the means of doing so.
As we’ve detailed in previous posts about UK television, the simplest way around this problem is to subscribe to a VPN. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, allow the user to change their IP address to one in the country of their choosing. So if you’re looking to watch iTV Player from outside the UK, all you need to do is log in to your VPN account, select a UK-based IP address, and you can enjoy as much Britain’s Got Talent, or The X Factor, or Mr. Selfridge as iTV Player offers.
VPN’s have other advantages as well. As you can imagine, having an anonymous IP address helps protect your anonymity and increases your online security. What’s more, you can bypass restrictions on websites that are blocked or censored, as well as traffic restrictions.
Using a DD-WRT upgraded FlashRouter means setting up your VPN will be a simple experience. A FlashRouter is preconfigured with internal, router-based, VPN client connection options and settings, which allow you to utilize the VPN subscription you’ve set up with an external VPN provider to be used our favorite devices at the same time. With a FlashRouter, your SmartTV, Roku, iPad, iPhone and Laptop can all use a VPN service provider simultaneously instead of configuring them one by one.
Additionally, by “flashing” our routers, we save you the trouble of attempting to install the DD-WRT firmware. Attempting to do so on your own can lead to “bricking”, which effectively ruins your router.
Using a router with the DD-WRT firmware pre-installed allows you to easily enjoy the many advantages offered by DD-WRT firmware, such as advanced QoS (or Quality of Service), which allows you to allocate bandwidth to any of your network connections in whatever manner you please. Another feature is adjustable antenna power to broaden your wireless spectrum, and you can configure your router as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your business, or if you’re just a generous neighbor.
Most of all though, a FlashRouter will help ensure that your access to quality programming around the globe isn’t hindered by wherever you happen to be at the moment. Whether you’re out of the UK temporarily or permanently, we can keep you in touch with your favorite iTV shows.