Since its release a few years ago, Google’s affordable and versatile Chromecast streaming devices have become an easy and affordable way to stream video for millions of people. Since support for this ingenious little device is now almost ubiquitous – you’ll find practically every app that plays video can send it to a Chromecast – it can be put to use even for watching live TV.
That’s right – you don’t need a TV antenna set up on your roof, or to mess around with “rabbit ears” desperately trying to pick up a good signal from a nearby TV station. Just plug a Chromecast into your TV, grab your iOS or Android phone or tablet and get right into it with the thousands of apps available – including ones that deliver your favourite TV channels and shows both live and on-demand via your home broadband connection.
There are so many apps available with Chromecast support it’s futile to try to list them all – just take a look around the Apps tab of the Google Home app for some starting points. But let’s take a look at the ones you’ll want to download first – all available for free from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.
If you’re into the latest premium TV or live sports, then you’ll want to download the Now TV app, pick up a well-priced pass for cinema, entertainment, sports or even hayu reality TV, and get streaming with full Chromecast support. When it comes to streaming live sports channels, this is where the action’s at – it’s a brilliant way to keep up with your favourite games and squeeze in some shows or a movie to wind down after the match.
Your first download should be this – an intelligent little app that encompasses everything about Freeview, which is the collective name for all the UK’s free-to-air digital TV channels. With the Freeview app, you can browse an interactive program guide that’s updated continuously so you can see what’s on-air right now and what’s coming up. Then you can jump straight to your show of choice on each network’s dedicated app; we’ll be giving you an overview of them on this page, but if you want to get downloading ahead of time, go grab the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and UKTV Play apps so you’ve got everything that this “master” app supports!
The original TV streaming app, BBC iPlayer is the best in its class and keeps getting better. Offering a comprehensive selection of programming on-demand from all the BBC’s channels (including “box sets” of popular shows) iPlayer also lets you stream them all live and, of course, send them to your big screen TV via Google Chromecast. To use BBC iPlayer these days, you do need to have both a current television licence and a free BBC online account.
The official ITV app takes things a step further than most TV network streaming apps by giving you options about how you view your shows. Alongside live streaming (with Google Chromecast support, of course) of the ITV channels, there’s absolutely loads of catch-up content in a massive library so you can watch your favourite shows – from The X Factor to The Simpsons – at a time that suits you. And uniquely, you can pay to remove the ads by getting a Hub+ subscription, which costs £3.99 a month or £39.99 a year.
As the name suggests, this one’s the place to go for everything Channel 4 – including the world-famous Film4 channel. You can stream channels live to Chromecast, and the app will let you pause and rewind live TV or even start a show from the beginning if you’ve come in halfway through. You can also stream Channel 4’s shows on-demand or take your favourites like Derry Girls or Gogglebox with you to watch on the train thanks to the app’s download feature.
Covering all the channels in the Channel 5 family – including Paramount Network, Spike, USA and Select – My5 opens up yet another vast library of on-demand content, both from the network’s own channels and from partner networks such as PBS America, BET and Blaze. But best of all, you can live-stream six of Channel 5’s broadcast channels any time of the day or night, direct to your TV via Chromecast. To access some features, you’ll need to register for a free account, but streaming the live channels is available to all.
Boasting hugely popular channels like Dave, Really, Yesterday, Home and Drama, UKTV has a vast and dedicated following, who’ll want to grab this app to gain access to dozens of the network’s shows, easy to cast to your TV via Google Chromecast. Unlike the other network apps, this one currently does not support streaming of live channels – but you can jump straight to the content you want from the Freeview guide and stream it as though it was live anyway!
If you’ve jumped on board the online video game train, you’ll already know that live-streaming games is a big business and a really, really big deal. And Twitch, an app solely dedicated to streaming live games and gamers, is the centre of the streaming universe, with thousands of hours of live game action being streamed every day – all for free, and all of it streamable direct to your big-screen TV via Chromecast. It’s gamer paradise – sit back, relax and watch some of the world’s best players from the comfort of your couch!
Summary: Get That Chromecast!
As you can see, the Google Chromecast is an incredibly versatile little device that won’t set you back much at all – it’s only £30 direct from Google and can be found in stores for even less. And once it’s plugged into your TV, live-streaming TV from across the UK and around the world becomes a reality – and all without spending a cent!