Presto News - 11th August 2008
Classical Television Broadcasts on the Internet
I know from the huge success of our recent DVD special offer that we have many customers who enjoy watching as well as listening to their classical music. So this week I want to take the opportunity to tell you about some of the free classical music television programmes which are currently available to watch via the Internet.
Since the BBC iPlayer was launched on Christmas day last year a small revolution has been taking place with regard to how people in the UK are able to watch television. In case you have so far not taken advantage of this service from the BBC (offered to UK residents only), it allows you to stream or download programmes from the BBC website for seven days following broadcast. Once a programme is downloaded you have thirty days to start watching it, and once you have started to watch a programme, it will continue to be available for the next seven days. It has been phenomenally successful with viewers now watching more than a million programmes a week in this way. It includes BBC3 and BBC4 so, from a classical music perspective, now is an excellent time to give it a go, as you will have many Proms broadcasts to enjoy.
To get started, go to the BBC iPlayer website. You'll find full details of this year's Proms broadcasts here. For classical music particularly I’d recommend downloading (where you save a copy of the whole programme on your computer before you start watching it) rather then streaming (where the programme is fed into your computer while you are watching it), as the sound and picture quality are far better and you can also jump forward or back in big chunks (necessary for example if the performance you are watching starts with a piece by Hindemith!). First time users will be prompted to get the ‘download manager’ first (a piece of software that sits on your computer and manages all your downloads), and overall it is pretty straightforward to get the hang of.
As mentioned above the BBC iPlayer is only available to people resident in the UK, but if you do not fit into that category do not despair as, wherever you live in the world, you can currently benefit from the offering on the DG website of concerts featuring some of their artists at this year's Verbier Festival. With performances featuring the likes of Mischa Maisky, Martha Argerich and Valery Gergiev there is some tempting things here. The performances are only available to stream so the quality is not as good as the BBC downloads but they are free so it is hard to grumble. There are five of them in total, all available until the end of August and you can find full details here.
Of course one major disadvantage for many people with both of these is that you’ll have to sit at your computer screen to watch them, often accompanied by fairly basic speakers, but it is exciting to be able to do this at all, especially for free, and I’m sure that in years to come the whole set up of home entertainment and computers will become much more integrated at which point this will cease to be an issue.
Chris O'Reilly - firstname.lastname@example.org
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