A guide to TV streaming in Ireland
TV streaming lets you watch your favourite programmes whenever you want. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What is TV streaming?
It’s access to content like programmes and films you can watch instantly, from a device that’s connected to the internet, such as:
- Smartphone or tablet
- Computer or laptop
- Smart TV
- Game console
- Streaming media player
How to get started
Getting started with streaming is really straightforward. You’ll just need to sign up to a streaming service - such as Netflix, NOW TV, Amazon Prime Video or hayu - and then download the dedicated app onto your preferred device.
The main things you’ll need in order to stream content are:
- Subscription to a streaming service
- A device to watch on
- A decent internet connection and data allowance
Who provides TV streaming services?
These are the main paid streaming services in Ireland:
- Netflix: offers a huge catalogue of movies, TV shows and documentaries. You can sign up and then choose a Basic, Standard or Premium package - depending on how many people in your household will be streaming content at once, and whether you want to watch in SD, HD or UHD. Prices start from €7.99 a month.
- NOW TV: is the streaming service from Sky. Passes include Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sports Extra and hayu, and prices start from €6 a month. Choose your 14 day free trial, on all passes except the sports ones.
- Amazon Prime Video: offers a cheaper alternative but check it’s right for you by signing up for a week-long free trial first. After the trial it’ll cost €2.99 a month for the first six months, then €5.99 a month.
- hayu: specialises in reality TV, with over 3,000 episodes of shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, plus many shows are available on the same day as the U.S. You can get a one month free trial of hayu, and after that it’ll cost €5.99 a month.
Are there any free alternatives?
If you don’t want to pay a subscription but you still like to watch content in this way, there are some free players out there, such as:
- RTÉ Player: which lets you catch up on all of the latest TV programmes from RTÉ 1 & 2, RTÉjr, and RTÉ News Now. You can also catch up on entire series like Dancing With the Stars and there’s some exclusive content on the Player, too.
- Virgin Media Player: which allows you to watch Virgin Media One, Two and Three live, as well as catch up on any shows you’ve missed. There is also a decent library of binge-worthy content, such as over 100 episodes of Red Rock.
What sort of broadband do you need to stream?
Check that your broadband speed and data allowance are high enough before you sign up to a streaming service.
You’ll need a minimum reliable broadband speed of around 3Mbps in order to stream from all of the main streaming services without buffering issues.
The data allowance you’ll need will depend on whether you watch in standard definition, or you’d prefer to watch in HD or ultra-HD. Check the recommended speeds and data allowances needed.
Is it illegal to stream TV?
No, streaming TV via the likes of Netflix, NOW TV, Amazon Prime Video and hayu, as well as online players like the RTÉ Player and Virgin Media Player is all completely legal.
However, it’s illegal to stream content that you’d normally have to pay for, for example sports channels or events, TV programmes that are exclusive to certain channels - like Game of Thrones, or movies that have just been released in the cinema.
Best superfast broadband deals for streaming
You don’t need incredibly high speeds for streaming, but you will want a reliable connection to help avoid any dreaded buffering issues. Our guide to the best broadband for streaming explains more.
Opting for an unlimited deal will mean you avoid charges for going over a set data allowance.
Virgin Media was named ‘Fastest Home Broadband Provider’ at the 2019 Switcher.ie Broadband Awards and has been awarded Fastest Broadband in Ireland by Ookla for three years running, so you may want to start your search here.
However, if you can’t get Virgin Media’s plans where you live, there are other providers offering speeds of up to 100Mbps, which should be plenty to ensure a reliable streaming experience.