Internet TV most often refers to television shows that are available to watch on the Internet via downloading or streaming video. In broader terms, it may also refer to movies, viral videos, clips, and other video content available on the Internet.
Although YouTube™ is the Internet’s most popular video site, it is not widely considered to be the best site for watching TV. Major television networks enforce copyright laws that prohibit users from uploading many of their TV shows onto the service, minimizing the selection of popular programs available. Most networks now feature their television programs on TV sections of the show’s official website or the network site; however, these are often only viewable to Internet users located within the United States. Like other streaming video sites, YouTube™ sometimes also buffers its data when users are watching on a slow connection.
Unlike streaming video, downloadable video allows users to keep the video content on their computers, and this is a popular method of watching Internet TV. Torrent services have become a major way of facilitating TV episode downloads, by allowing users to share and transfer video content in file form. Major television networks have sought legal action against torrent services for distributing their content, however. Meanwhile, some networks and Hollywood studios have worked around these obstacles by signing deals with the services. In 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) became North America’s first public broadcaster to make a full program (Canada's Next Great Prime Minister) available for download via torrent.
The major benefits of Internet TV include programming selection and flexibility. Unlike regular television, Internet users can select virtually any program and episode they choose to watch at any given time, including shows that have long been canceled. Watchers also don’t need to record programs with a digital video recorder (DVR) in order to pause, rewind or fast forward through certain sections — both streaming and download sites allow users these capabilities.