I’m not that much of a television junkie and I prefer a good movie or an interesting TED talk over the ad-bloated junk you ﬁnd on television most of the time. I don’t even have a televion and I usually don’t miss it. But sometimes – on very rare occasions – there is something one might watch. May it be some world-changing news event or that unbelievable documentary with Betty Botterblom. That’s when Internet-based television via Zattoo.com comes into play.
Zattoo.com is a free internet television service that streams many normal television channels right to your Windows, OS X, or Linux machine. It’s is absolutely legal, as zattoo has contracts with the stations it streams. On the other hand not that many channels are available yet. In Germany, for example, the complete public service broadcasting is available, but none of the big commercial stations.
The service is available in many west european countries (i.e. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) and the channels you can watch depend on your location (e.g. Pro7 is available for people from Switzerland, but not for people with an german IP address).
The Zattoo-Player has moderate hardware requirements, is really easy to use, but lacks some (unnecessary?) features like recording, time shifting, etc., and you need a broadband connection with at least 500kbit/s to use it.
The quality was… okay… but I noticed a few dropouts from time to time. That’s not surprising as Zattoo is based on Peer2Peer technology: Your machine will re-stream parts of the content back into the net.
Go ahead and give Zattoo.com a try. But always keep in mind:
The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another issue altogether.Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, 1985