The rise of on-the-go viewing

Millions of us are watching our favourite TV programmes whenever we like via tablets, laptops and smartphones as cutting-edge tech redefines how we spend our downtime.

Millions of us are watching our favourite TV programmes whenever we like via tablets, laptops and smartphones as cutting-edge tech redefines how we spend our downtime.

The rise of the BBC iPlayer and SkyGo means memories of family remote control feuds when EastEnders clashed with Champions League football are becoming increasingly sepia-tinged. Instead, living rooms up and down the country are blessed with a newfound harmony as the latest technology allows us to pick and choose how, when and where we watch our favourite shows.

I Pad (lifestyle)

The original iPlayer set the benchmark high, letting us catch up on missed shows via our laptops and PCs. But the latest development has liberated the iPlayer from our living rooms and bedrooms and let it loose on the streets - well, on our tablets and smartphones at least. You can now download shows from the iPlayer site onto mobile devices to enjoy at your leisure - provided it's within 30 days. So if you missed last night's MasterChef but have to work tonight don't worry, because you can tune in via your tablet while on the train or bus. Already available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, the feature will be coming to Android devices soon.

BBC figures showed there were 30 million requests for iPlayer programmes via a mobile or tablet during August, with a separate poll from Viacom in the US finding tablets are the second most popular method for watching TV programmes behind actual televisions. Researchers reckoned when it comes to watching full-length TV shows some 15% of viewing is done on tablet devices, with comedies and music shows most tickling our fancy.

"With mobile downloads for BBC iPlayer, you can now load up your mobile phone or tablet with hours and hours of BBC television programmes, then watch them on the road, on the Tube, on a plane, without worrying about having an internet connection or running up a mobile data bill," said Daniel Danker, general manager of programmes and on-demand for the BBC.

Boffins at technology analyst Gartner also reckon last year 5% of us were using our smartphones to watch actual live TV. Enter Sky and its SkyGo app, which means we can tune into live programmes while out and about. If you've already downloaded it you'll know a few taps on your iPad or iPhone and you can be watching live Premier League action or getting the latest from the Mad Men of Madison Avenue, whether chilling with a coffee or away on business. But if you've grown tired of your mate's endless bragging about 'catching the match on Sky Go' read on. Sky is no longer the only kid on the block when it comes to live on-the-go viewing. Virgin Media has also recently announced a similar service for its customers and thankfully this town is big enough for the both of them.

TV Anywhere gives you just that - access to your favourite shows wherever you are via your mobile device. Apple devotees will be the first to get to grips with the new service when it launches in the autumn, but don't panic if you're in the Android camp - compatibility is pencilled in for next year.

The service will be available to all Virgin Media customers, but it'll be those with the TiVo box who are left smuggest.

"Virgin Media: TiVo customers can manage their TV planning wherever they want, be it online or via our new app allowing them to search for shows, discover new content, set recordings and manage all their favourite content stored on their TiVo box," explained Virgin Media.

You'll also be able to share your favourite shows on Facebook and Twitter, which is another key thing we're all using our tablets for, according to Gartner.

So, there you have it - the lowdown on some of the ways you can check out your favourite programmes via your tablet. All you have to do now is work out what you're going to watch!