9 easy ways to watch your favourite TV online

In the UK? Want to see your favourite programmes online? Here's nine extremely simple ways how you can.

Recent times have seen an explosion in the amount of programming available, and things are set to improve still further.

Project Kangaroo is in development, which will make available content from ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC, some of which will be paid for and some of which will be free.

If you're outside the UK, we haven't forgotten about you - we'll also be running an article telling you how you can see this stuff, too.

1. iPlayer
We love the iPlayer, and it gets better by the day: it's available on so many platforms that if you told us the BBC were making a version that worked on trees, we'd believe you. But the iPlayer isn't the only way to watch BBC programmes online. Many shows have their own websites, so for example if you pop along to www.topgear.com you can select from a menu of highlights instead of wading through the unfunny bits.

2. ITV Catch-up
Essentially an ITV version of iPlayer, Catch-up runs happily in Internet Explorer but requires Silverlight for Firefox or Mac users. You can access programmes for 30 days and the quality's decent enough, but it's a streaming-only affair that makes you watch ads before the programmes.

3. 4oD
Channel 4's 4oD delivers the familiar 30 days of content plus a selection of paid-for programmes, but it's a strictly Windows-only affair with no sign of a Mac or Linux version on the horizon.

4. Demand Five
Oh dear. Demand Five could be good but much of the content is chargeable and the selection is patchy. It's a shame, because the Windows Media content is broadcast-quality and works on the Mac (via Flip4Mac) as well as on Windows.

5. Sky Player
Sky's Sky Player suffers from the same problem as Five: it's hard to find content, much of it is chargeable and it's off-limits unless you subscribe to the appropriate TV package, so for example the free download of Run Fatboy Run is only available to Sky Movies subscribers. As if that wasn't annoying enough, it's Windows only.

6. Zattoo
Hurrah! A TV service that isn't Windows-only! The Zattoo client is available for XP, Vista, OS X and Linux, and it gives you 30 UK channels including the Beeb and ITV. Content is live, and while the picture quality isn't brilliant it's fine for windowed viewing.

7. Current.tv
Depending on your point of view Current.tv is either an exciting experiment in social media or a rubbish channel from the outer reaches of the programme guide. Nevertheless, its site is excellent. You can stream live or select individual programmes, and it all comes via lovely cross-platform Flash.

8. Livestation
Like Zattoo, Livestation is multi-platform - but unlike Zattoo the choice of channels in the UK is sparse to say the least: Al-Jazeera and a few overseas news channels.

9. YouTube
There's more to YouTube than laughing babies and dogs on swings: if you go to Channels and click on Partners there are stacks of official, legal channels to choose from. Inevitably the BBC is in there, but you'll also find microsites for individual shows such as The X Factor and Channel Five's Gadget Show.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.