Canadians, and our friends south of the border, are unable to watch the Eurovision Song Contest on any domestic TV channel, however many of us have been joining the European live audience for years, thanks to Internet streaming.
We remember crowding around a small notebook computer screen during the 2004 Contest from Istanbul. The stream was jerky, and of course the picture was relatively small on our notebook in those days prior to large flat-panel displays, but it was still a magnificent experience and we were hooked!
You had to be a real fan to enjoy the contest under those conditions. Times have changed. Homes have better broadband to stream the live broadcast, the technology behind streaming has improved, our home computers are much better, and our home theatres and flat panel displays have Internet connectivity.
With apps like BBC's iPlayer and Netflix on tablets, and YouTube on BlueRay players, its easy to see that we are entering a post-cable era when television audiences are no longer limited by what their cable or satellite subscription provides. Now, more than ever, it is easy to join the world's largest non-sporting event audience watching the Eurovision Song Contest.
- The live streams run at 9pm Central European Summer Time (or 3pm Eastern Daylight Time in Canada) for both semi-finals and the final. Programs last about 3 hours, commercial free. The semi-finals take place on Tuesday May 14 and Thursday May 16, and the final is on Saturday May 18, 2013. Not able to be at home mid-week in the afternoons? No problem, the streams are available to watch after the show is over (usually within hours of the live show's completion).
- The Eurovision Song Contest is streamed live at Eurovision.tv, the official home of the Eurovision Song Contest. To play the stream, you will first need to download a free Octoshape App. Open the download and it quickly installs with no fuss (mere seconds to complete installation after clicking on download). You can test your set-up and catch-up on past Eurovision shows at the same time.
- If you would rather have commentary from television broadcasters, you can look up the broadcasters of your favourite country. Increasingly, national TV broadcasters are also streaming their broadcast on their own websites.
- If you are using a notebook computer, bring it close to your home theatre set-up. Most flat-panel displays have HDMI (best quality/easiest set-up), S-Video or computer display inputs. Connect your computer to your flat-panel display with the method available/preferred on your computer. In the photo examples (above right), we are connecting with a computer display cable.
- If you are connecting with a computer display cable, send sound to your amplifier or flat panel display from your notebook mini-jack headphone/audio output to a matching min-jack audio input to your flat panel or home theatre system, or use a splitter to convert the mini-jack to two RCA plugs for you amplifier/home theatre system. HDMI and S-Video already carry sound with video.
- Pour drinks, set out the snacks, turn up the volume and enjoy!
The Contest has a huge audience (estimated television audience is over 125 million), and who knows how many more watching the live streams? In previous years, a few problems have been experienced during the live broadcast (usually related to buffering as a server struggles to meet demand). This is part of the experience of watching Eurovision live.
If you wish for a completely smooth streaming experience wait for the stream to appear in Eurovision.tv's past shows section. You might want to bookmark this page if you wish to watch to contest, after it has ended, without knowing who won (thus avoiding the main page of the Eurovision.tv, which would surely have the headline).
Our friends perfer to watch the shows live with the rest of Europe, accepting the slight hickups along the way. Quality of the stream depends on your broadband connection, your computer, and of course the demand the audience is putting on the host servers providing the stream. At least if one website isn't working for you, there are alternative web sites for you to try.
Since we published this story last year, progress continues to be made in making broadcasts even more available, with better quality, to viewers who do not have access to European Broadcasting Union television broadcasts. Increasingly, we will be free of using web browsers to stream content. Instead, Apps are making an appearance, at least at the individual broadcaster level, that improve the quality of the viewing experience and make it easy to watch Eurovision-related programming on any device (phone, tablet, home theatre) wirelessly.
For more information see our story Apps Bring A Better Eurovision Experience Outside EBU.
This aricle has been updated with Eurovision 2013 dates & times.