Nowadays, there’s an online search engine for practically every kind of product and service imaginable, whether it’s the nearest shopping mall, the best restaurants in town, or the perfect video stream. In order to find and compare legal streaming services and find the best selection of videos, films and series on offer, it’s worth checking out our web app of the week, CanIStream.It.
Zattoo: watch TV online via TV streaming service (also with a free account)
Zattoo is a TV streaming service that has offices located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Zürich in Switzerland. It currently operates in Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Germany, the UK, and France, and is in the process of expanding to more countries. It piloted in the United Kingdom in 2007 and since then, users have been able to use the Zattoo web app in their browsers to watch TV online. In addition to the browser, other platforms are gradually being supported. Nowadays, Zattoo is not only available as an app for mobile devices and Windows, but also for various smart TVs as well as for streaming boxes and streaming sticks.
This makes Zattoo a software-based alternative to satellite, cable, and TV sets, as well as IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) services. The TV streaming service is offered both as a limited free version and in a premium version. Additional packets are also available. What are the differences between the different subscriptions and what are the advantages and disadvantages of Zattoo compared to other internet TV providers?
The Swiss company, Zattoo Europa AG, is behind the app. The Swiss and German markets are the most popular and offer the most channels. The service is gaining popularity in the UK, Spain, and Denmark as well, and there are plans to start up in the USA too. The focus will first be on mobile devices with iOS, Android, and Windows 10 operating systems, and PC and Mac browsers. Later, it’s planned that the service can be streamed on other devices. Zattoo will deploy a central TV hub in the US to allow market access in the county, and plans to host it in Fort Lauderdale, Florida..
The main feature of Zattoo is the live broadcasting of TV channels over the internet. In the overview, select a TV channel and it will play back in a video player on your device. In addition to the channels offered, you can also access some video-on-demand content via the application. To stream the videos, HTML5 is used.
Some of the TV channels broadcast in HD quality, while others only broadcast in SD. This depends on whether you use the free or paid version of Zattoo. The premium package, which is subject to a fee, enables you to benefit from more (HD) channels as well as additional features.
Zattoo: hardware, software, and internet connection requirements
Zattoo can be used with different devices:
- Desktop computers and laptops: After logging into Zattoo.com, you can easily use the service with a computer or notebook via your web browser. All common browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari are supported. There is also an independent app for those using Windows 10.
- Smartphones and tablets: The Zattoo app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones.
- Smart TVs: Different models of Samsung and TV, which are equipped with Android TV, are supported.
- Streaming player and games console: There are apps for the Fire TV Stick from Amazon, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, the Nvidia Shield TV Box, and Xbox One.
Transmitting TV programs takes place in real time. However, when the picture is transmitted on internet television services, it tends to lag, compared to when shown on cable TVs, aerial terrestrial TVs, and satellite TVs. The delay can even exceed one minute and depends on the devices and/or apps.
A fast internet connection doesn’t solve the problem of delayed transmission, but it is necessary for a pleasant experience with good picture quality and without glitches. For smooth HD streaming, you need a speed of at least 16 Mbps. Zattoo lists the minimum internet speed requirements for the service as follows: at least 4 Mbps for the free Zattoo account and at least 7 Mbps for Zattoo Premium.
An example of what Zattoo offers can be shown using the UK example:
Zattoo Free gives you access to 81 channels (and 6 HD channels) such as:
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Four
- More4, etc.
It’s also possible to stream without time restrictions on web, smartphone, and tablet. There are some downsides to the free version, which include ads every time you change the channel as well as no parallel streams allowed.
For £6.90 ($9.00) a month you can subscribe to Zattoo International, which right now includes channels in Polish such as tvn and tvn24. The German International package is slightly more advanced and includes: 10 Turkish channels, 2 Polish channels, 4 Croatian channels, 2 Bosnian channels, 6 Serbian channels, and 1 Brazilian channel.
Other options available to Zattoo Germany and not yet to Zattoo UK include these:
Zattoo Plus and Zattoo Premium
This is a 10-TV channel package that has a nice mix to suit everyone. It consists of sports, fun sport, health, family, movies, music, as well as erotic.
Zattoo Premium gives you access to all the free channels as well as 50 HD channels. You can also record up to 5000 shows online, which then stay in your playlist forever. There’s also the option of recording every episode of the series and even pausing or rewinding shows so you don’t miss any of your favourite parts. Every show from the last 7 days is available on demand. There are no ads, which means you can change channels more quickly and find what you’re really looking for without having to click ads away. You can also have two parallel streams, so several people can watch simultaneously.
You can try it out with a 30-day free trial.
The description and screenshots of the user interface in this article refer to the Zattoo web app that you can access from your browser. However, all the available apps are structured in a similar way.
Zattoo’s user interface is easy to understand and is simple to use. After logging in, the menu item entitled 'Highlights' appears first in the top panel (see screenshot above), which introduces you to the popular shows of the day as well as the media library. In addition, the overview shows which programs are currently being watched by most users in the live stream.
The left-hand column lists all the TV channels that can be accessed with a single click. Here you can also see which program is currently running on the respective TV channel and which will come on next. By clicking on the information button for each program, you will receive more information about it, although not all shows have extra information to read.
You can select your favorites from the channels, which means that they are displayed at the top of the column and can be accessed quickly. You can minimize the column with the channel overview at any time.
The application’s main menu items are located in the upper bar. If you want to get an overview of which program is currently running on your chosen channel, you can open the 'Live Preview'. This shows you still images of the programs currently showing, including the title of the respective program and the TV channel that it is broadcasted on.
If you prefer to look at the TV in a more conventional way, click on 'Guide' in the menu bar. Here you can see all the shows of the day. In addition, the television programs for the next two weeks can be viewed by clicking on the display date. It’s also possible to set the time of day via a drop-down menu and a timeline. By clicking on a program, you receive a description of its contents (if there is one available).
'On Demand' is the last menu item that gives you access to TV content. Here you will find various videos that you can stream at any time. They are subdivided according to providers. Here, there’s also a favourites section, similar to the highlights section, but this only refers to video-on-demand content.
All in all, it’s easy to find your way around the application. With its easy-to-use interface, program overview, and synopsis, which is available for almost all shows, Zattoo offers you all you need to know about which TV shows and films movies are available and when they’re showing.