Monday, 7 January 2013

It's the new year so it's the return of the FA Cup!

As the FA Cup lands at the third round, it is footballing folklore to expect a few cup giant killings with big names exiting unexpectedly. Right on cue, Macclesfield, Brighton and Luton all obliged and gave us exactly what we wanted.

In a repeat of their classic encounter in 1987, Tottenham squared off with Coventry however this time, the north London giants cruised to a convincing and stylish win over their inferior League One opponents.

Watch BBC Abroad

Middlesbrough progressed after defeating non-league Hastings whilst the reining Premier League champions Manchester City locked horns with Watford.

In a classic get-out-of-jail situation, Robin Van Persie saved the blushes of Manchester United, preventing defeat against a Joe Cole inspired West Ham, whilst it was an excellent start to life at Chelsea for Demba Ba starting for the first time against Southampton.

The great underdog scenarios.

Matthew Barnes Homer wrote his name into Macclesfield folklore, scoring two late goals to knock out Championship leaders Cardiff 2-1. Alan Pardew’s woes deepened as Brighton comfortably knocked his Newcastle side out 2-0, thus leaving the competition for the second successive season at the Amex Stadium. Gordie fans must be sick of facing the seagulls.

UK TV Abroad

Still in the mix by the skin of their teeth!

Girgious Karagounis rescued Fulham from a cup upset with a strike 10 minutes from time to deny Championship side Blackpool safe passage to the fourth round, to finish 1-1. In similar vein, a last gasp goal from Kieron Dyer ensured QPR lived to fight another FA Cup day as they forced a replay with West Bromich Albion. A second half ressurection from Sunderland ensured they avoided an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of Championship strugglers Bolton, ending 2-2 and Luciano Becchio’s equaliser earned Leeds a replay against fellow Championship team Birmingham at Elland Road.

Sky TV Abroad

Other memorable draws meaning a replay is required were decided between Sheffield Wednesday and Milton Keynes Dons, Southend and Brentford, Hull City and Leyton Orient plus Crystal Palace and Stoke.

So as things stand, there's still some 4th round ties to be wrapped up. Let's watch this space to see how things settle.

UK TV Online

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

What's on the horizon for UK TV in 2013?

We're starting to get animated about some of the rumoured new TV shows that we have in store for the coming year. There's quite a number to consider so to save you the time, here's the pick of the bunch to whet your appetite, many of which will be coming exclusively to satellite tv so make sure you know how to get Sky asap!

From the US, we should finally expect the arrival of "Nashville", "Revolution" and "The New Normal". New UK dramas to look forward to include "Quirke" and "Mr. Selfridge". "Mad Men" starlet Elisabeth Moss's BBC project "Top of the Lake" should finally land on our screens. We should also expect to see Gillian Anderson's delayed landing of "The Thriller" which is said to be aired on BBC Two.

One to set the PVR for is Kevin Bacon's "The Following", yet another exclusive bought by BSkyB to be aired on Sky Atlantic plus NBC's version of "Hannibal" should be penned into the diary, so that we can see how well Mads Mikkelsen fills the very large shoes left by the legendary Anthony Hopkins from the movie version of the scary serial killer stories.

Of all the new shows to arrive in 2013, the one gathering the most speed, not to mention huge amounts of hype is Kevin Spacey's "House of Cards"; a show breaking all the rules and airing only on Netflix. Is this a peep into the future of television entertainment by breaking the chains of mainstream networks and jumping ship to on-demand services?

The success of the show will largely unveil whether this is just a way of testing the water or the de facto way we should expect to watch TV series' in time to come. My gut tells me that the latter of the two is the most likely upshot. TV networks don't take risks after spending several million dollars on production if they didn't have a strong indicator that the show will be a huge success using the on-demand company.

Speaking of big budgets; two new Showtime dramas to soon hit the US screens are "Masters of Sex" and "Ray Donovan" which seem to be worth exploring. It hasn't been confirmed yet if these shows will reach the UK. Again, the decision will no doubt be based largely on the ratings on the other side of the pond first off.

That's the upcoming entertainment we have to look forward to. Of course, no year could ever top 2012 when it comes to sport however, 2013 still has some great events to get enthusiastic about. Wherever you are, don't miss the second half of the Premier League season, not to mention the UEFA Champions League which has some great knock-out ties coming up that will have worldwide audiences rushing to watch Sky Sports abroad.

There's also the start of the new Formula 1 season. After receiving the award of best TV coverage, surely it's a must to ensure you can catch all the motor racing action and watch Sky F1 abroad. So if you are still stuck with terrestrial TV, maybe now's the time to treat yourself to a Sky package and enjoy all this blockbuster entertainment that 2013 has in store!

Monday, 10 December 2012

The perfect UK TV abroad placeshift set up?

Connecting a Slingbox with YouView

You may have noticed that in recent months, the latest craze to hit UK free-to-air TV is the YouView box; released by Lord Sugar in conjunction with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. With the unveiling comes a new realm of entertainment via a smart EPG that equips users to watch up to 7 days worth of TV back in time, using an integrated system with BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand Five.

As a guy who watches a huge amount of UK TV streaming from my lounge abroad, the one stumbling block to any timezone difference is the lack of choice in realtime. Ok, so any TV addict can set up recordings on a regular PVR but like all TV, new shows, new series and changes in schedules occur which means you could be missing out on some excellent UK TV entertainment. Also, there are many times when you simply want flip through the networks to find something worth enjoying when there's simply nothing decent on the television.

In the past, clicking though the iPlayer sites and alike on your laptop or PC is a pain. It takes an age to find any decent programming and frankly, the interfaces aren't geared towards finding shows across multiple channels. YouView has answered that issue with a range of Freeview PVRs that if integrated with a Slingbox, giving even the most hard lined non-subscription TV viewer a much more varied choice of TV viewing entertainment.

YouView & Slingbox - a match made in place shift heaven!

I decided to give this new system a test run and it was well worth the time, effort and extra cost. I plugged in the latest Humax T-1000 into my recently bought Slingbox 500 and HD, on-demand British TV streaming was at my fingertips instantly. This is what I had really been missing. The ability to scan through the days entertainment, select what I wanted to watch and just sit back and feast in it. No headaches using websites, searching and messy cables. Just me, my remote and my Slingbox.

I was doubtful at first but I can comprehend why Lord Alan Sugar has spent so much time getting the networks on board and capital in creating this system. Put simply, it works and works great!

Of course IPTV is not a new system and I am well aware that there are many alternative products, most of which are unofficial that can provide UK TV with a time shifted EPG. I have used them and frankly, these mostly illegal and in the main, poorly supported UK TV overseas services are terrible. I wanted a system that was dedicated. Geared to my tastes, demands and completely stable. This system gave me exactly that. So if you are based abroad and want a low cost, on-demand UK TV streaming service; then paring up a YouView box with a Slingbox could be a partnership made in heaven!

Friday, 7 December 2012

The F1 season closes out in style!

Vettel is World Champ again!

If like me, you may have decided to spend the weekend in front of the TV and sit back to watch F1 online this past weekend to see the final showdown between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It didn't disappoint.

Sebastian Vettel is F1 champion for a third time
The final race of the season at Interlagos, Brazil was full of incident, controversy and a dose of disappointment. In his final ever race for McLaren Mercedes, Lewis hamilton was once again struck by some awful bad luck that saw his car taken out by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and at that moment, his race ended prematurely. Up to and including that point, he was enjoying one of his best weekends, leading the race for 54 laps from pole. It was a terrible end to a long and emotional relationship with his boyhood team. Next season could be very interesting, if not bumpy for the 2008 World Champion.

As for Vettel, it was his third title in a row and yet again, another season that was down to the wire. Alonso gave him a hard ride for his money and he really had to earn it this time around. Poor starts and finishes aside, the German showed his true quality where it counted and he is arguably the best driver out there right now; not taking into account the cars and teams they drive for.

Every lap enjoyed on my iPad!

I watched the action live and online via my brilliant uk vpn which I have supplied to me by the folks back home at UKTV2C. The quality of the Sky Go streaming is really impressive and at full screen, beamed via bluetooth straight to my TV, it was a joy to watch. I was flipping between stations as I was keeping a close eye on the football on Sky Sports online as well so it was great to have all these satellite tv stations at my fingertips, on my iPad.

Anyhow, there goes another season of Formula 1. I'm intrigued to know how things will pan out next season. I have a sneaking suspicion that Jenson Button could be the surprise package as he will undoubtedly be the main man at McLaren, with no close rivalries or expectation. Watch this space as they say!