Buenos Aires Television Guide (Part Two)

Gringo in Buenos AiresCulture7 Comments

Cable TV

Cable TV is absolutely huge in Argentina. The biggest provider is Cablevision Digital, but there’s also Telecentro and Multicanal . Their lineups are pretty similar.

DirecTV is actually satellite TV, but it broadcasts in NTSC (good if you have a TV from the US) and better choices if you want to watch shows in English. (The best channels in terms of English language programming include WB, Fox, E! Entertainment, Bloomberg, CNN, BBC World, Animal Planet, and National Geographic.)

All these options have their supporters, so check out their websites to see what suits you the best. Note that the providers usually have packages that include internet access as well.

Other ways to watch

So far we’ve covered watching TV in Argentina; both regular free-to-air and cable/satellite. But are there other ways to watch TV here? Of course! The following options will allow you to watch TV shows from home to your heart’s content.

Video on demand: for free

The BBC’s iPlayer and the website Hulu in the US are both free and increasingly popular ways to watch TV on-demand on your computer. However, these services are location-limited, meaning that you are only meant to be able to use iPlayer if your computer is physically located in the UK and Hulu if your computer is physically located in the US. There are one or two ways around this though.

One option is to use Overplay. This service fools website into thinking that your computer is located somewhere other than its actual location. You download the software and then connect to whichever country you want, depending on what you want to watch. Overplay is a paid-for service, but it only costs $10 per month.

Another option is Surf The Channel, a sort of aggregator of links to a variety of other websites that allow popular TV shows to be streamed for free. Surf The Channel itself is free to use too, but is supported by pop-up ads.

Video on demand: paid-for

Along with iPlayer, Hulu, Surf The Channel and the like there are also some video on demand services on the internet that are paid-for. Amazon’s Video On Demand (go to the Video On Demand department) is one, iTunes is another, and Netflix is a third.

There’s not much to say about these options. They work well, but you have to pay for each show. Whether you’re willing to do that is up to you.

Also, like iPlayer and Hulu, Netflix On Demand doesn’t work outside the US (unless you Overplay or something similar).

Slingbox

Another option is to get a Slingbox. This product is, as the name suggests, a box. You connect the box to a TV and to an internet connection in the country you want the TV from. Then you can connect to the Slingbox (after installing some software) from a computer connected to the internet anywhere in the world, and it transmits (or ‘slings’) the TV programs to that computer. The TV that the Slingbox is plugged into doesn’t need to be set to the program you want to watch, and in fact the TV doesn’t even need to be on. If you don’t keep a residence in the country you want the TV from, you could just set it up at the house of a friend or family member – it won’t bother them at all.

Note that while the Slingbox system works well, there will be some degradation in the picture quality and occasional signal loss is not uncommon. Internet connections with more bandwidth, both here and where you have the Slingbox, will help.

The one thing that you need to keep in mind with a Slingbox is time differences. If for example your favorite show is on at 10pm in California, you’ll be up in the middle of the night if you want to watch it here in Buenos Aires.

BitTorrent

A final option, though one of questionable legality (use it at your own moral risk), is to use BitTorrent to download whatever TV shows you want, whenever you want, and then watch them on your computer.

The popular website Lifehacker has posted a very easy-to-understand beginner’s guide to BitTorrent which you can find here.

The best place to find TV torrent files is EZTV.

For watching downloaded shows (normally they’ll be .avi files), by far the best option is the extremely highly regarded and free VLC Media Player (download it from here).

Finally

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for watching TV in Argentina, whether it’s local TV or shows from back home that you want to watch.

I’ll leave you with this: one local channel that you absolutely must check out during your time here is Cronica TV. Cronica is a hilariously awful a 24-hr live news channel. It’s unflinchingly tabloid, features some of the most amateurish camerawork and interviewing you’ve ever seen, and announces news with (sometimes ironic) giant white letters on a plain red background set to a military march (The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa). It’s great.