Your Guide to Online Entertainment

Today we have the luxury of having most of our entertainment online, whether it’s watching films or listening to the radio, the internet has provided us with access to more content than ever before.

What’s more, with the current lockdown restrictions, these services have become more important than ever, but how do you know you’re getting access to everything you need?

In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about accessing online entertainment.
Including:

  • What sort of content is available online
  • How to stream and how to watch TV online
  • How to stream music
  • The different online entertainment websites
  • Identify the main online entertainment services you can use
  • Explain how to access entertainment online
  • Explain the safety and security which surrounds online entertainment

Online Entertainment

Thanks to high-speed internet access and innovative technological developments, the use of online entertainment has skyrocketed in recent years – so much so you might be using it without even realising sometimes. 

What is online entertainment?

The phrase ‘online entertainment’ essentially involves accessing material such as music and films over the internet. This can be either watching or listening to programmes as they happen (live streaming) or to keep it on your device to enjoy at a later time of your own choosing (downloading).

What entertainment is available online?

Many different forms of online entertainment are available, including:

  • ONLINE BOOKS (e-books)
  • ONLINE MUSIC (streaming music or downloading from albums, playlists or radio stations)
  • ONLINE TV AND FILM VIEWING (streaming or downloading)
  • ONLINE GAMES


How do you view this entertainment online?

Any modern internet-enabled device should be able to access online entertainment. 

A PC, laptop or tablet might be preferred by some for enjoying visual media as the screens are larger, but most smartphones with good quality screens are fully capable as well.

Music can be played back on many devices and you can use the headphone socket found on most electrical devices to plug in speakers or personal headphones/earphones.

What are the benefits of accessing entertainment online?

Some of the benefits of using online sources for entertainment purposes include:

  • CONVENIENCE choosing from a wide range of easily accessed material
  • COST making the most of free content
  • TIMING choosing when and where you view or listen 
  • ENTERTAINMENT 

Using online entertainment

There is nothing complicated about using or accessing online entertainment and any jargon or buzzwords can be easily explained. 

This section looks at the different options and explains how to watch TV online, how to stream and more about downloading or streaming music.

TV

Online TV services are available for most major channels and there are a few different ways in which you can stream the content.

  • Watch recorded TV shows which are stored online after their original broadcast
  • Watch live TV with shows and programmes in real time (you need a TV licence for this)

YouTube
Massively popular for everything from music videos, full TV programmes and films as well as silly clips, YouTube is free and possibly the easiest streaming service to use. Visit Site


BBC iPlayer
By using the BBC iPlayer service you can access TV and radio output that is both live and previously recorded. If you stream any ‘live’ television content, you must have a TV licence although if you only use the service for archived material (i.e. shows that have already been broadcast) this doesn’t apply. Visit Site

Similar options are available from other terrestrial TV channels as follows:

ITV: ITV Player 
Visit Site

Channel 4: 4 On Demand (4OD) Visit Site

Channel 5: Demand 5 Visit Site

This is just a snapshot though and often most TV channels will have a streaming or downloading service available. A simple search online or across app stores will be able to tell you. 

Music

Music can be accessed online using various means and there are vast ranges of genres available at your fingertips. When streaming music or using streaming apps you can:

  • Listen to specific songs online using streaming services such as Spotify
  • Search for particular songs, albums or artists using these services
  • Create your own playlists to curate lists of your favourite songs
  • Purchase and download music online to enjoy at your home – these files are stored on your PC or device so you do not need to be connected to the internet to listen to them once downloaded
  • Copy music files from other devices (MP3 players, mobile phones) to your PC and listen to them at your leisure – this also works the other way round

Here are some of the most popular music streaming services:

Spotify
This is currently the most popular site for streaming music and it offers both free and paid-for accounts. Visit Site
 
Apple iTunes
Apple’s iTunes is the biggest online music store but it also offers films and TV programmes, as well as apps and books. You can purchase something, download it to your device and save it to use time and time again. Visit Site

SoundCloud
SoundCloud is a place where budding artists and existing stars upload their music, providing you with an opportunity to find new sounds across many different genres. All that’s needed is an internet connection. Visit Site

Film

Those with subscriptions to online entertainment services can also access a range of films online.

Similar services are also available to subscribers of digital TV packages (such as Virgin Media or Sky) and allow users to login to their account and view films online. You can also:

  • Watch recent releases and old films online via streaming
  • Download films to watch at a later time

As the amount of data needed to download or stream films is quite high – particularly in High Definition – you should also make sure you consider the following:

  • A strong internet connection and plenty of data allowances will be needed to consume this amount of data
  • Most films require “buffering” to allow the content to be viewed and if you are in an area with limited connectivity then this might be affected

Netflix
Originally started as a DVD delivery service, Netflix offers a vast range of films, TV shows and a growing selection of original content all as ‘on demand’ streams. This is a paid for service although you may be able to get a free one-month trial. Visit Site

Amazon Prime Video
Formerly Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Prime Video is included if you have an Amazon Prime account and offers a rent and buy service with access to more than 50,000 digital movies and TV episodes. A 30-day free trial can be available. Visit Site

e-books

E-books can be accessed online to provide users with the chance to read their favourite publications from their devices.

  • Search for popular titles, new releases or old books
  • Enjoy a range of free downloadable books
  • Purchase new books to read on apps downloaded on your computer or specific e-reader devices
  • Download purchased books to your e-reader to enjoy on the move

Google Play
Many people have tablets or smartphones which use the Android operating system and Google Play is the official outlet to download books, films, TV shows and much more. Visit Site

Windows Phone App Store 
This is designed for use with Windows Phone devices and also offers access to a great range of content to download on your device. Visit Site

Apple Books 
Your MacBook, iPhone or iPad also has access to Apple Books. Here you can access, download and read all your favourite titles and even listen to audiobook versions. Visit Site

Radio

As well as accessing music in the form of individual files, you can also access online radio stations to enjoy all your favourite hits.

  • Visit the website of the radio station you want to listen to on your computer, smartphone or tablet
  • Listen to live broadcasts to hear the latest music, news and commentary
  • Listen to podcasts or interviews

Here are a few examples:

BBC Radio
Listen to shows from any of the BBC Radio channels, including live streaming, podcasts and past shows. Visit Site

Internet Radio 
A live streaming radio site that includes many of the UK’s leading stations, Internet Radio provides a service that can turn any computer, tablet or phone into a radio. Visit Site

A number of radio stations can also be accessed directly online, including the following:

Heart FM Visit Site

Magic Visit Site

Kiss FM Visit Site

Capital FM Visit Site

Absolute Radio Visit Site

How to stream entertainment online

Here we’ve explained one of the easiest ways for you to access streaming content online through YouTube.

STEP 1 - Visit the homepage www.youtube.com 
Logon to the internet and go to the homepage at www.youtube.com. You can either use Google to find it or simply enter the address into the search bar at the top of your browser.

STEP 2 - Use the search bar
YouTube’s homepage has its own search bar prominently displayed at the top. Enter a concise term of words or a phrase for what you might be interested in, for instance ‘funny cat’.

STEP 3 - Select video from results list 
Now you will have a listed selection of videos. Simply click on one that you’d like to watch and it will open in a new window and automatically start playing.

NB: Don’t worry if you see a short advert first, this is the way people who post material on the service can make money.

NB: You should be aware that YouTube’s content is not regulated as strictly as TV broadcasting and therefore it is important that you view any clips with caution and do not allow children or other users to view the content unless you are confident it is age-appropriate.

Each YouTube video has a selection of similar offerings listed to the right-hand side of your chosen video so you can view similar content quickly and easily.

Most other video or music streaming services will have a similar user interface. So all you need to do when you register or set up an account is use the search tools and select the content you want to view.

If all else fails you can follow the above YouTube steps and look for a video on this particular platform that explains how to set up the other streaming services.

How to download online entertainment

You can download online entertainment from many websites, but we are going to use iTunes as an example. You should be aware that all sites will follow a similar system.

STEP 1  - Using iTunes

Using iTunes is a great way to choose from a wide range of music, TV and film offerings to download. You can look at the iTunes store with your usual web browser by going to https://www.apple.com/uk/itunes/ or by searching for it using a search engine such as Google.

STEP 2 - Read reviews and ratings
Find out all the details you need about the album, book, podcast or film you want, including user reviews and ratings, by simply clicking on it.

STEP 3 - Making a purchase
To make a purchase, you need to install the iTunes programme or app on your Apple device if you don’t already have it. Then you set up an account in the usual way as you would for any other website, choosing login details and a password.

Once you have chosen a payment method you can go on to download the content. Payments can be made via credit or debit card but you may also be able to pay through secure services such as PayPal.

Security

Security when streaming or downloading entertainment online should always be taken seriously, no matter what you are using the internet for and especially when you might be making a payment.

This is particularly important right now as security support services might not be as readily available during the pandemic restrictions. So here we’ve addressed some key considerations to stay safe when using online entertainment websites and services.

How secure is online streaming and downloading?

Online streaming and downloading are both extremely secure as long as you are using reputable sites such as those we have already mentioned.

Sadly, the internet is also littered with unofficial sites offering illegal downloads so you should always take care to only stream or download from a website you can trust.

Look for signs that the website you are visiting is secure, such as:

  • A padlock symbol in the address bar
  • An address that begins “https” (the ‘s’ stands for secure)
  • A green address bar

Top security tips for online entertainment users

As well as looking for these signs of security, you can also make every effort to stay safe when accessing entertainment online.

Tips to follow include:

  • Always make sure your anti-virus protection is up to date
  • Only use well-known or official sites for streaming and downloading
  • Keep all login and account details safe, secure and private
  • Avoid duplicating passwords for the online entertainment websites you use
  • Don't download free material that may be illegal as it may also carry a virus

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