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Last updated: 13 January 2022
Want to watch TV through your games console? Find out which consoles support Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Watching TV on a games console
Your gaming console lets you blast away enemies, outrun zombies and compete with friends, but did you know it can also be the core of a powerful home entertainment system?
The latest PlayStation or Xbox models can be portals to hundreds of on-demand film and TV shows and streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Considering ditching traditional TV services for a raft of streaming subscriptions? A games console makes it easy to channel this content to your widescreen TV. And with high-speed broadband for gamers, you’ll be able to stream and download all the TV content you want comfortably, with no channel-surfing or waiting around.
Be aware though, like online gaming, streaming takes up a lot of bandwidth. Before you decide to sideline satellite or terrestrial channels, make sure you have a fast enough internet connection. If your internet speed is fast enough for gaming online, it will certainly be enough for streaming TV too.
Watching TV on the Xbox One
All Xbox consoles give you access to Microsoft Movies and TV, which you may know under its former name Xbox Video. Here you can rent or buy recent films and TV series, often before they hit DVD or streaming services. Any files you purchase will be stored in the Microsoft Cloud, so you can access them from other devices, including Windows tablets and phones.
If that’s not enough, you can also use your Xbox one to access popular streaming sites, with apps for BBC iPlayer, All 4, Demand 5, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and NOW TV. You’ll need the relevant television licence or subscription to view this content, but the apps themselves are free. Additionally, if you’re a Sky TV customer you upgrade your free Sky Go account to Sky Go Extra and view content both live and on-demand through your console.
And forget swapping between several remotes to control your TV. You can connect your Xbox One to set-top boxes with HDMI outputs to watch and control your television through your Xbox itself, with the Xbox’s controller. Compatible set-top boxes including Sky+ HD, Virgin Media TiVO, VHD, YouView (the box you receive with TalkTalk TV or BT TV packages) and more Freeview Boxes.
Watching TV on the Xbox 360
You can do much the same with an Xbox 360 as an Xbox One: access Microsoft Movies and TV, play catch-up from iPlayer, All 4, Demand 5 and STV Player; and log into Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV and Blinkbox; and even watch live TV through Sky Go Extra.
Unfortunately, you can’t connect your Xbox 360 to your set-top box - the one area where its stablemate the Xbox One outpaces the 360 for TV viewing.
Watching TV on the PlayStation
The PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 all come loaded with apps that allow you to access your favourite streaming and catch-up platforms (with the appropriate licences and subscriptions), including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iPlayer and All 4. With a Sky Go Extra account, you can also surf live channels and on-demand content.
Can’t find something there to entertain you? Toggle to PlayStation video, Sony’s store for on-demand films and TV. Content you buy there will be stored on the cloud, so you can access it from other devices, including any Sony Xperia phone.
Watching TV on the Nintendo Switch
Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch doesn't support big-name streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+. That doesn't mean you can't stream videos at all, however.
The Nintendo Switch gives you access to just three streaming platforms - YouTube, Funimation, and Pokémon .
You've probably heard of YouTube (unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade), the video streaming site that has a huge library of content ranging from short viral clips and music videos to old movies and documentaries. It doesn't have a good selection of current movies and TV shoes, although many films can be rented for a small fee.
Funimation is a streaming service you're probably less aware of. It specialises in all things anime, and even has an easy-to-use interface unique to the Nintendo Switch. To access its content, you will need to pay the £4.99 monthly subscription fee, although it does come with a 14-day free trial.
Meanwhile, Pokémon TV does what it says on the tin, showing all the Pokémon TV series and movies. This makes sense for a Nintendo device, seeing as Pokémon is arguably the Japanese company's most famous invention.