Slowly but steadily, Australia’s TV networks have realised that people with busy lives just don’t always have the opportunity to watch their favourite shows as they go to air – and whether the show is a serial drama like Neighbours or a reality competition show like Masterchef, missing even a single episode can put you totally out of the loop.
The last thing the networks want is for you to stop watching their shows because you missed too many episodes. Thankfully, on-demand catch-up sites and apps are here to plug those gaps so you don’t need to miss out on a thing.
The Ten Network’s Free to Air offering in the catch-up department is Tenplay. The service is a bit more than just a catch-up site. Every show has a destination page – even if it’s currently not on the air – as well as live online streaming availability. This feature is most popular with their sport offerings, such as the select V8 Supercars racing events they televise in real time.
From those pages you can not only watch the most recent episodes of the show (and in some cases, such as with Masterchef, entire seasons), but also find interviews, trailers, information on the cast, and the latest news. There’s also and interface with social media content directly related to the show – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. They’ve also included photo galleries, blogs, Masterchef recipes message boards and more.
This is Ten taking the idea of a destination portal for their shows and using it to great advantage. In its web site form, it’s an all-encompassing information site first, catch-up TV service second.
Watch Full Episodes with Apps
That situation is reversed when it comes to the apps, though. Ten realises that when you grab your phone or tablet and fire up their app, what you probably want to do is actually watch something. So the informational side of things is largely left behind, with the focus shifting almost entirely onto on-demand catch-up episodes.
TenPlay is available on Apple TV. Photo: TenPlay’s Official Website
Here’s the good news: you’re likely going to find a Tenplay app on one of your other devices. It’s available on Apple TV and game consoles, as well as recent smart TVs. You can also get the app on Fetch TV and the more recent Telstra TV.
|iOS||iPhone 5 and up using iOS 7 and up.|
|PCs and Macs||Modern Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari Browsers.|
|Sony Bravia TV||Yes|
One thing you can’t do with Tenplay – and a bit of a surprise omission, given how ubiquitous the service is in general – is cast a show from it to a Google Chromecast. Neither the mobile apps nor the web site directly support it. That’s not going to be a dealbreaker for most, but it’s worth noting. Chromecast support from Australian networks is, to be fair, limited. The iOS apps do support Airplay to an Apple TV. But since there’s already a native app on that device, it’s unlikely anyone would want to.
What About the Viewing Experience?
You can watch full seasons of Masterchef with Tenplay. Photo: Tenplay’s Official Website
Picture quality on Tenplay is a mixed bag. Out of all the catch-up services, it ranks near the bottom in terms of picture quality when viewed on a decent-sized screen. Interestingly, though, that appears to be app-dependent, with the same service on some platforms (such as the Xbox One) kicking in to a higher quality version of the stream after a little time. Others, meanwhile – including Apple TV – seem to remain on a low-resolution stream right through. This seems to depend on the show being viewed. For example, The Project remains in standard definition throughout, while more recent episodes of Masterchef ramp up to a pretty acceptable near-HD resolution.
Free to Air shows on Tenplay sourced from HD masters look substantially crisper. Our guess is this will get better with time and with a just little more TLC on Ten’s behalf.
Like most of the catch-up services on offer, there’s mandatory ads both before an episode starts and at the points that would have been natural ad breaks during broadcast. You can’t skip these like you would if you’d recorded a show off the air. It’s a necessary evil, of course. But the good news is that the ad breaks are much, much shorter than the ones you’d see on the broadcast.
TenPlay is now fully integrated with the new TV app on Apple TV devices, allowing you to keep track of your viewing across all your iOS devices. It’s a brilliant feature that’s incredibly handy – start watching a show on the phone on the way home, then pick up where you left off on the Apple TV after dinner. You should also take a look at the top shows to stream on Tenplay this month.
Overall, if you’re a fan of any of Ten’s library of shows, you’ll want to keep a Tenplay app around. You should also bookmark the site for when you want to connect with other people who have the same excellent taste in TV shows as you know you do.